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Vintage California Cuisine: 300 Recipes from the First Cookbooks Published in the Golden State


The Art of South American Cooking

By Felipe Rojas-Lombardi





American Classic With Peruvian Roots

Most Americans are familiar with two or three types of potato. California’s farmers markets offer a hint that the crop is more diverse than that. Farmers who grow for California’s markets list more than a dozen varieties on their certificates, including Russian Banana, French Fingerling, German Yellow, Swedish Peanut, Peruvian Purple and Peruvian Red potatoes.

Impressed? Well, consider that in the Andes, the potato’s place of origin, farmers cultivate no fewer than 3,000 varieties. In Peru, potatoes come in pink, white, blue, yellow or brown. Some are round, others are fingerlike; some are as small as grapes, others are bigger than your fist. The textures and flavors vary just as dramatically, from starchy to waxy and from nutty to bitter to sweet.

Not surprisingly, the cuisine of Peru offers a wealth of recipes for these unusual potatoes. Perhaps the champion of Peruvian cooking in the United States was Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, a Lima native who was chef of the Ballroom in Manhattan and who died in 1991. One of his books, The Art of South American Cooking, includes the following recipe.

Peruvian Potato Salad

3 pounds blue or purple potatoes, or other waxy potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 cup red wine or raspberry vinegar
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
8 to 10 anchovy fillets, minced
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 japaleño peppers, seeded and chopped, or to taste
8 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup chopped Italian parsley

1. Boil the potatoes about 20 minutes, until just tender. Drain and place on a rack to cool.

2. Meanwhile, pour the vinegar into a cup, add the garlic and crush it into the vinegar with a fork. Allow to steep for 15 minutes.

3. When potatoes have cooled, peel and slice 1/2 inch thick. Set aside.

4. Remove garlic from vinegar. Mash anchovies on a plate with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, then mix anchovies with rest of vinegar.

5. Place vinegar and olive oil in a large bowl; whisk together. Stir in jalapeño peppers and scallions. Add sliced potatoes and toss gently. Add mint and parsley and toss again.

Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef