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Mexican potatoes


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OK, I probably shouldn't be worrying about potatoes in Mexico. But I like to eat them from time to time. But if I buy regular size potatoes (the little red ones are fine) they are full of problems. When you cut them open, the texture, instead of being smooth, is ridged and lumpy. When you smell them, they have a strong smell that I would call earthy if that weren't an insult to earth. And when you cook them they go sweetish.

I have the sense this means that if not frosted, they have been stored at too low a temperature. Does anyone else have the same experience? Or an explanation? Or a solution?


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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OK, I probably shouldn't be worrying about potatoes in Mexico. But I like to eat them from time to time. But if I buy regular size potatoes (the little red ones are fine) they are full of problems.  When you cut them open, the texture, instead of being smooth, is ridged and lumpy. When you smell them, they have a strong smell that I would call earthy if that weren't an insult to earth. And when you cook them they go sweetish. 


I have never encountered this problem in the many years of visiting and cooking, but mainly in the coastal towns--east and west. Scalloped potatoes with peppers is a once a week dish.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine


Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Sounds like they have been in refrigerated storage at some point. Try leaving them out on the counter, in a dry, cool spot for about 5-7 days. If the problem is due to refrigeration having converted starch to sugar, this counter treatment should set them on the road to reconverting the sugar to starch. They should, at least in theory, behave normally.

Other than that, I can only wonder if they are some particular species that is not highly hybridized, or if it crossed with some other, funky little spuds at some point down the line???

Sounds dreadful ... and hear I was remembering the tiny, tiny little potatotitos I used to buy at Guiterrez Rizo in Vallarta and cook with olive oil, garlic, and epazote!!


Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Thanks for the thoughts Jamie and Theabroma. Maybe the coastal cities are supplied from some other source. I suspect our potatoes are grown around here, then sent to the Central de Abastos in Ixtapalapa in Mexico City. I've tried buying mine from the two markets to which I have easy access (Guanajuato which I would not recommend to anyone and Silao which is much better). I've also tried them from various supermarkets: Comercial, Gigante, Wal-Mart and Costco. Always the same.

By the way, Theabroma, I keep my potatoes in a covered Oaxacan basket (pampered I must say) in normal house conditions which means not very cool but usually very dry. I have to use them within the week or they sprout.

None of this applies to the tiny red ones which as you say are great with garlic and chile or herbs. Trouble is they are not much good for potato soup, for baked potatos or for the scalloped potatoes you mention Jamie. I'm about to throw out last night's batch. After getting one good potato out of four, I said oh what the hell and threw in some of the dubious ones. A mistake!


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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I've been pondering your original post on this topic, Rachel. So many foreigners here moan about the quality of the potatoes available in and around Guadalajara, too.

My experience in this neck of the woods is that 99% of the little red potatoes are dyed red, not naturally red. I stopped buying them years ago. When I want new potatoes, I buy the little brown-skin ones.

There are no baking potatoes--ah, for a russet!--anywhere here. The ubiquitous plain ol' white potato is everywhere, though, and that's what I buy. I gave up trying to bake them. I do use them for puré de papa and in all the other ways they're used in Mexican cooking: in caldo de pollo, cocido, as a stuffing for tacos and chiles rellenos, etc. I've gotten used to them, but on the very rare occasions when I find myself North of the Border, a baked russet is high on my list of gotta-have-its. And I usually bring several back with me.

Like you, I find that it's extremely difficult to keep potatoes outside the refrigerator. They either sprout or spoil within a few days. I usually buy them at the tianguis as needed, the morning I'm cooking the whatever I need them for.

I finally did cook some of the Jojutla rice and posted about it, by the way.

Muchos saludos


What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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This may not help anyone, and indeed may be from left field, but when I worked wheat harvest in Colorado, we would make very good extra money by hauling potatoes to the enormous potato "sheds". All of the potatoes that were not suitable for certain markets were rail-shipped to Mexico. There was a very good market for sizes that were usually giveaway there.There being CO.

Edited by Mabelline (log)
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My experience with potatoes is so limited in Mexico, but your findings are fascinating to me. Is there any way of finding out where the potatoes are coming from? U.S.? Chile? Peru? Canada? Mexico?

Everytime I'm in Mexico, I insanely crave papas fritas. I simply must have them. I find they taste so different, so much better than what I get up here, which are normally Kennebec potatoes.

I find Papas fritas in Mexico the best ever - meaty never mealy and always cooked perfectly.

Perhaps the frying potato used there is different from what you are buying? Or for me, it could be a case of absence makes the heart or the palate grow fonder?

Case in point - On a jungle trip in Ecuador, it was all I could think about were fried potatoes, something I couldn't possibly obtain. I had to suffice on canned sardines for a week and smoked- on-the-nightly-fire crocodile.


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Shelora, I think one of the reasons papas fritas are so much better here is that they are made from real honest-to-god papas, not the reconstituted something-or-other that passes for french fries in the States.

I am linking to the following URL because it shows an excellent picture of the potatoes available here. These are Mexican potatoes, grown right here.

From that website (in case your Spanish is rusty):

In Mexico, 67 thousand hectáreas (about 170,000 acres) of potatoes are sown annually, from which a production of one million 350 thousand tons of potatoes are harvested. That harvest satisfies the demands of the Mexican consumer.

In this country, the potato occupies fourth place in crop production, beaten only by corn, beans, rice, and wheat. Among cultivated crops, only tomato and chile verde cover a larger surfact. The potato is cultivated over 35% of the surface of Mexican national territory.

You can make out the graphs even without knowing Spanish--it's fascinating to see all the statistics, particularly the pie graph which shows state by state potato production . Not only is the potato grown here in abundance, but another 316,000 tons of potatoes were imported into Mexico between 1994-2001.

All I know is, they are always heaped up and running over at the tianguis and permanent markets here in Guadalajara.

Who would have thought!

Now: I am dying of curiosity about what wood-fired crocodile tastes like. Please don't tell me chicken.

Edited by esperanza (log)

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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Thanks Esperanza, I couldn't connect with the url you sent - I'm curious about the photo - but the information on how much is grown in Mexico is excellent. The potatoes do taste different than the Kennebecs we get up here in Canada. Not that I am addicted to fries here - maybe five times a year - but I'm curious to find out the potato variety - maybe I can even smuggle some back next time I'm in Mexico.

Now: I am dying of curiosity about what wood-fired crocodile tastes like. Please don't tell me chicken.

You know I hate to disappoint so I'll say it tasted like rattle snake!

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I think the potatoes here in Mexico are great, just not for baking. I love the little tiny ones and the big shiny thin skinned ones (which are probebly big versions of the same thing). I find them firm and flavorful. I'm assuming, as I buy them from the market, that they are fairly local and not imported from the USA. I would hope that imported stuff goes either to industrial things like chips or to Walmarts.

There are scary billboards around Mexico City promoting "USA meat" with a red, white 'n blue logo - Besides the fact that importing this lower priced stuff puts small Mexican farmers out of business, the quality of industrially grown USA product is invariably inferior. We have the last couple of presidents on both sides of the border and their free trade to thank for all this. The same is going on in Europe, I guess.

I have asked where the meat comes from in the usual places I buy it, and have always been told it's local. Once again, I think the imported stuff goes more to the big-time users.

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What interesting replies.

Red potatoes. Hmm. do you conclude they are dyed because the color goes when you cook them, Esperanza? In any case, I shall view them differently.

Imported potatoes. Mabelline, that's really interesting because it does show that some potatoes are coming in even given the enormous Mexican production.

Papas fritas. Shelora, I have mixed views about papas fritas. About ten years ago they all seemed to be undercooked to me. Eventually I decided that was local taste. Just as English chips (as in fish and chips) are not badly made french fries but something different, I decided that the Mexicans liked their chips with a real bite to them. Am I imagining things, those of you who have been here a while? Now they seem to be usually cooked to a level that I enjoy. The influence of American chains?

Potato statistics. Like Shelora, I can't follow your link Esperanza. But I do know that there are acres and acres of them grown around here. But it tickled my memory and off I went to my books. Yes, this is new. When Rockefeller came in the 1940s to effect the Greem Revolution with maize, wheat and beans, one of their three secondary crops was the potato (the others were soy and sorghum). According to Stakman et al's history, Campaigns against Hunger, potatos were only 6% of cropland (all round León where I live) and grown mainly for foreign residents and tourists. They needed high quality imported seed and were subject to blight.

So they worked on a blight-resistant variety, and crossed it with local wild varieties (note that Theabroma). Yield per acre doubled, area planted went from 87,000 acres in 48 to 137,000 in 53.

And since then, given your statistics Esperanza, it's been onward and upward.

Quality. Nickarte, I don't remember the quality problems a decade ago. But I stick to my guns that there's something wrong now, at least where I live. It is, incidentally, the opinion of Mexican friends too: expensive and poor quality.

I shall search out some potato growers and try to follow this up.

Innovation. Interesting to see how Mexicans have incorporated potatoes so happily into many dishes. But they remain a vegetable not a staple, if that distinction makes sense,


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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I apologize for that link.

I've tried twice to fix it, but even when I open it directly from Google and copy the #&*!@ link into the URL thingamajig here, it won't open for me either. Cyber gremlins at work. And of course I saved the blankety-blank picture of the potatoes to my hard drive but can't figure out how to get the picture onto Image Gullet so I can post it here.

Maybe a cut-and-paste will make it work: http://www.siea.sagarpa.gob.mx/InfOMer/analisis/Anpapa.html

WHOA, there it goes!

And I agree completely with Nick, I have no problem with the papas here. Rachel, you have to figure out what's going on with yours, just up the road.

And next time you see some of those little red potatoes, wet your finger and rub it over one of them. Eeeewww. A tianguero friend of mine is the one who told me they were dyed red and so they are. The color is most unnatural.

Edited by esperanza (log)

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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