In addition to farming the sweetest oysters and mussels on the planet (the colder the water, the sweeter the meat, and believe me, it might only be September, but it’s already damn cold up here), Prince Edward Island grows a hell of a lot of potatoes. Something like 25 billion pounds or about 75 pounds of spuds for every Canuck in the Great White North.
Which would explain why the Islanders refer to themselves as spudheads. In fact, they’ve got a Potato Museum on the island, in the little community of O’Leary (there are Irish everywhere on PEI) which is surrounded by acres and acres of potato fields. If you ask a local how to get to the museum, they’ll tell you to just look for the giant potato, a fiberglass spud some 14 feet high that was put up by potato farmers without the least hint of irony.
The other thing they’ve got at the museum, besides the enormous spud, is the Potato Hall of Fame. I don’t even know what to say about that. I just imagine some little kid fidgeting around at the dinner table on some farm in O’Leary when his mom, who is standing at the porcelain sink paring spuds for dinner, says, “Hank, did you know that yer granfadder is in the Potato Hall of Fame?”
Is this then something Hank can reveal to his friends at school? And does this make him more or less likely to get pummeled on the playground? I just don’t know.
That aside, Andrew Morrison, the chef at the hotel I’m staying in, Dalvay By-The-Sea, made a fabulous potato dish last night from some PEI fingerlings. I asked him for the recipe and he just sort of waved me off. “It’s simple,” he said. Just boil up the spuds and rough dice them, then brown them in a little putter, sprinkling with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, then finish them with sliced green onions, crumbled bacon, fresh baby spinach leaves, and a couple of tablespoons of cream.
Definitely a recipe that should be in the Potato Hall of Fame.
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