A few weeks ago, I stopped by the farmers market at Mount Tom, looking for some carrots for a beef stew I wanted to make. It was one of the first cool days this fall and I felt like cooking something hot. I found my carrots and then looked around to see what else might be available. One young farmer had a huge basket of spotted potatoes.
“What in the world are these,” I asked.
“Pinto Gold,” the young farmer exclaimed. “Just dug them this morning. They are supposed to be a melting yellow potato. Something like a Yukon Gold but they have a creamier consistency. I’ve never grown them before, but they sounded interesting. I decided to give them a try.”
I was excited. When I was in Peru adopting my daughter more that thirty years ago,Yolanda who helped me with the baby, made a Peruvian Chicken soup with local yellow potatoes that melted like magic to make a creamy base that you didn’t even have to mash. I had sat with Yolanda one afternoon and struggled to translate several of the local dishes she made for us, but the soup— that had seemed so simple— I could never get right. In the mountains of Peru they grow over four thousand varieties of potatoes—FOUR THOUSAND!
I have tried every potato variety I have ever found over the years but nothing has even come close.
“I’ll take a small bag,” I said hopefully.
Stew forgotten, I went right home and used every last potato I bought to make Peruvian chicken soup. About thirty minutes into the cooking process the potatoes just melted—completely dissolved—leaving a thick, creamy broth just like Yolanda’s soup from long ago.
I couldn’t wait to go back to the farmers market to get more potatoes. I wondered what they would be like roasted or mashed. Saturday, when I went to the market, the mound of spotted Pinto Gold potatoes had disappeared.
“Where are the spotted potatoes,” I asked. “They were amazing.”
“I still have a few,” the farmer said pointing to a small basket. “Don’t worry— I’ll be growing a lot more of these next year. They’ve been really popular. I always try something new each season. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. Its’ always great to find a winner.”
I bought all that he had left: enough for one more batch of soup. At least I won’t have to wait thirty more years to taste them again.
That young farmer is smart. Next season, when potato harvest comes around he will have a following of customers waiting to get some of his Pinto Gold potatoes. Next growing season, he will try something else new. I wonder what it will be?
Something new— something different— keeps any business fresh. It keeps customers and attracts new ones. It’s not that a business needs big changes, just a little something new works.