From Farm to Table: The Sila Potato

Farm to table - peppers apples tomatoes peaches CalabriaIn 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.

Calabria travel guide by Michelle FabioBut one of the least known IGP specialties outside the region is the humble patata silana. The Sila potato. And its time has arrived.

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!

 

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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.
Farm to table Sila potato / Photo: Giovanni (Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Sila potato harvest / Photo: Giovanni (Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

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?

More: http://www.patatadellasila.it/ (Italian, English, others); http://www.patatadellasilafest.it/ (Italian only)

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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? 

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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:

15 Beans of Wisdom to “From Farm to Table: The Sila Potato”
  1. 09.15.2016

    I agree Michelle with the statement “there just never can be too many celebrations for a potato” viva il potato and obviously I need to come back to Calabria to try this… ps. Thank you for letting me join you guys :).

    michelle Reply:

    Benvenuta — and I’ve now fixed the name of your blog, which I typed wrong twice. My sincerest apologies!

  2. 09.15.2016

    Love these potatoes that burst with flavor!

    michelle Reply:

    Agreed, Karen! Thanks for coming by!

  3. 09.17.2016

    So, if I make the pipi e patate dish with something other than Sila potatoes, is it still as good? ?

    michelle Reply:

    I suppose, Jessica 😉

  4. 10.07.2016

    I did not know that soppressata is from Calabria! It’s one of my favorite meats to include on a charcuterie board. The farm to table way of buying fresh, local produce is one of the many things I love so much about Italy. Thanks so much for your wonderful post!

    michelle Reply:

    Several regions make soppressata, but different versions. I’m partial to the calabrese one, of course 😉 Thank you for coming by and commenting!

  5. 10.07.2016

    I look forward to reading more of your blog – it’s wonderful!

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks so much, Betsy!

  6. 11.13.2016

    There is a saying that “Roma é sempre Roma,” I think it needs to be changed to “L’italia é sempre Italia.” There is magic in that country. Apart from their fashion, the food in Italy makes one feel worthy to visit Italy. I am always happy anytime I visit Italy.

  1. […] Michelle: From Farm to Table: The Sila Potato […]... arttrav.com/florence/eat-local
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  3. […] Bleeding Espresso – From Farm to Table: The Sila Potato […]... athomeintuscany.org/2016/09/15/joys-of-seasonal-food-italy
Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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Recipes

 

Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake