What is my favorite underground food these days? You guessed it - the Bodega Red potato!
A little local potato history - The Bodega Red had practically disappeared - until 5 lonely potatoes were donated to the director of the Bodega Land Trust. Slow Food North member, Elissa Rubin Mahon, picked up the ball - or the potato - and began a mission to bring it back into production for all of us to eat and love.
Elissa’s research turned up a few interesting legends about the origin of the Bodega Red: (1) a South American sailor jumped ship with the potato and began to grow it; (2) it came sewn into the hem of a soon-to-be Latin American bride of a Bodega Bay landowner.
What ever the origin, Elissa notes that Sonoma County’s first cash crop was potatoes - we actually grew more potatoes than any where else in California is the early settlement days. An estimated 60,000 sacks of potatoes were shipped to San Francisco annually in the 1850’s. I have heard from John Gobbi, a potato grower from Tomales who was one of the first farmers at Sebastopol market when I began as manager 22 years ago, that the going rate his “great granddaddy was paid for potatoes (in the 1850’s) was one penny per pound!”
This Sunday Chef Jenni Emory will be cooking three scrumptious dishes using organic Bodega Reds grown by Nathan and Jesse of First Light Farm - starting at 11 a.m. Jenni has years of experience as a chef in many corners of the world from Cayman Islands to New Orleans to Sonoma. Her recipes include Smashed Potatoes, Rosemary Garlic Hash and Hors Devours style stuffed potatoes.
Come and taste and fall in love with this historic potato - this Sunday, February 16th, starting at 11 a.m.
Sebastopol Farmers Market Manager