In a place where the simplest of errands — say, a “quick” run to the post office, STOP LAUGHING — can seem insurmountable, we are rather lucky that going from “farm to table” doesn’t fall into that category.
One of my favorite things about living in Calabria, in fact, is how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to get fresh, tasty fruits and vegetables. Whether from our own garden, a neighbor, a traveling fruttivendolo in an Ape, or an open-air market, farm to table here is easy peasy — especially for our most prized food products.
The region of Calabria has several foods that have secured the coveted labels of DOP (protected designation of origin) and IGP (protected geographical indiction), which both protect and assure consumers of the foods’ origins.
Calabria DOP products include capocollo, soppressata, pancetta, salsiccia (sausage), caciocavallo silano, and the bergamot; IGP products include the Calabrian clementine, the Tropea red onion, and, soon, Calabrian olive oil.
I wrote about this special spud in my book, 52 Things to See & Do in Calabria, and I’m sharing that excerpt here so you can get a taste of what you’ll find in the book as well as learn more about our beloved, under-appreciated potato, which is grown in the Sila Mountains, one of Calabria’s major ranges and, incidentally, home to the Sila National Park. There’s lots more about Calabria’s mountains and three national parks in my book, by the way, if you’re interested!
12. Order “some fries with that” to taste the famous taters of Sila.
For quite some time, the people of Calabria have known that the Patata della Sila, the Sila potato, is no ordinary tuber. Only recently has the European Union caught on and granted it IGP status, which guarantees its geographic origins as the Sila plateau.
Cultivation of this special spud dates back to the early 1800s. Its distinctive whitish-yellow flesh contains a taste stronger than your average Italian tater and has more nutrients as well. While the Sila potato is great baked or grilled, it is best fried, so if you’re a patatine fritte (french fries) lover, villages along the Sila plateau are great places to order some fries with that.
To be more specific, the Sila potato IGP is grown in the following places:
- Province of Cosenza: Acri, Aprigliano, Bocchigliero, Celico, Colosimi, Longobucco, Parenti, Pedace, Rogliano, San Giovanni in Fiore, Serra Pedace, Spezzano della Sila, and Spezzano Piccolo.
- Province of Catanzaro: Albi, Carlopoli, Cicala, Confluenti, Decollatura, Magisano, Martirano, Martirano Lombardo, Motta San Lucia, Serrastretta, Sorbo San Basile, Soveria Mannelli, and Taverna.
And the best time of year to taste the famous Sila potato? Why, that would be at the Sagra della Salsiccia e della Patata Silana (Sausage and Sila Potato Festival), held annually in the fall in the charming Camigliatello Silano. This celebration has been around for over thirty years, so you can be sure those folks know their way around the potato, which pairs especially well with spicy Calabrian sausage. The festivities also include traditional music, tarantella dancing, and other various food and entertainment stands.
If you miss that one, though, another potato fest takes place in Parenti on the last Sunday of August.
There just never can be too many celebrations for a potato, can there?
Now . . . what about getting the Sila potato from farm to table?
As mentioned above, you can slice it up and make some fries, but having a bag of Sila potatoes on hand is also a great opportunity to try one of Calabria’s favorite dishes: pipi e patate — potatoes and peppers. Grab some peppers from the market and click for my simple recipe, exactly how my grandmother always made them.
What’s your favorite potato dish?
This post is part of this month’s Italy Blogging Roundtable‘s theme “Farm to Table,” and for the occasion, we’re thrilled to welcome Georgette of Girl in Florence, to the blogging roundtable!
Read other posts here:
- Jessica of Italy Explained: Packing the Perfect Picnic in Italy
- Gloria of At Home in Tuscany: The Joys of Seasonal Food in Italy
- Rebecca of Brigolante: Umbria’s Farm Bounty
- Alexandra of ArtTrav: Eat Local: Farm to Table Options in Florence
- Laura of Ciao Amalfi: In a Landscape Surrounded by Lemons
- Georgette of Girl in Florence: Gourmet Tuscany: Restaurants that Embrace a Farm-To-Table Philosophy
- Melanie of Italofile: A Little Greek / Yogurt in Paestum