Purple spuds may be common enough currency in some quarters, but not where I live. So, yes, while on my travels here in the States, I am prone to getting excited by sights like this at Seattle’s Pike Place market:
I am also prone to having palpitations induced by sights like this causa made with purple mash (and, frankly, at this stage in our relationship, my excitement at meeting and eating purple spuds should not surprise any of you).
My encounter with the causa, a Peruvian dish traditionally consisting of layered potato and seafood, came about through the happy circumstance of being in San Francisco and of meeting the lovely Oyster Food & Culture for lunch at La Mar.
This Peruvian restaurant is known for its ceviche, tasty fishy morsels, marinated raw in citrus juice and chillies, so we dove into the ceviche tasting but, Peru being the ancestral home of the potato ‘n’ all, I felt duty bound to try one of their star spudded causas. And not just any causa but, being a purple spud innocent, the causa bearing that colour was the one that had my name on it. I’m not sure what I was building myself up for, because purple potatoes actually don’t have what I suppose I would think of as a purple taste. Probably not even necessarily the tastiest of spuds, but they do remain defiantly purple, nonetheless, and a bit of a star attraction on the plate. The causa was a worthy first time purple experience.
As for the rest of the lunch at La Mar, we were agreed that the ceviche chifa – with Mahi Mahi in what tasted like a Vietnamese-style sauce, with ginger, peanuts and pickled veg, stole the show. The pisco sours were very fine too. And the dulce de leche with port meringue. Not to mention the good company. A very fine way to spend 3 hours on a Thursday afternoon I thought.
As I left the restaurant and wandered through the nearby Ferry Building marketplace, I glanced longingly once more at the exotic vegetables for sale. Concerned as I already was about getting my Japanese knives past customs and security, I didn’t want to risk bringing spuds, purple or otherwise, back to Ireland as well. Besides, that’s probably in the same category as bringing coals to Newcastle and people might think me ever so slightly strange.