Woodstock Area Job Bank

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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.

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