At the Purcari Winery in the village of Purcari, Moldova. Photo taken December 7, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hunting for wild potatoes is like fishing!

And I'm not into fishing. However, we still had a fun day out in the mountains. We picked up Martin and his father Don Jose, and drove out of town at just after 6:00am yesterday morning. Don Jose grew up in these mountains and knows the area well.

We drove for just over an hour on a paved mountain road, then Don Jose (age 77) said it was time to turn off onto a single lane gravel road. This road went to a village 6.5 kms (4 miles) away! Good thing we didn't meet any other vehicles going the other way!


This single lane road is the only access to a village 6.5 kms away.

There are only about 16 houses in the village. There is a small store, and a primary school. Martin and Don Jose went to find the guy they know who's property we are going to for wild potato hunting! Sal went over and talked to a woman washing some dishes. I guarantee they don't get many visitors up in this area, especially gringos! She offered us coffee, and I was quick to take her up on that. Everybody is so friendly.

The primary school in the village. All schools, no matter how remote, have computerized satellite learning systems installed by the Ministry of Education. Teachers and students have access to videos, music, and virtual activities to make learning more interactive. Mexico is not as backwards as many people like to believe.

Martin and Don Jose had found their friend Fidel, and they came back and said we were to drive down this narrow little lane, and that would lead us to another track that would take us to the hiking path. We really should have had a 4 wheel drive, but Sal's driving got us there with only two wheel drive!

Here's the "road"!

Trying to decide if we can make it. We did!

We made it to the hiking trail, and there was even a spot to turn the truck around. I was kind of worried about that! Then, we had to hike about half an hour to the spot where we looked for the potatoes. It was absolutely beautiful scenery!

It was fairly hazy though, and a warm day.

Beautiful mountains in a remote area of Mexico.


Ruth and I went for a walk while the others were looking for the first potato. There was no point in us looking until we knew what to look for! Eventually, they found the first one. They are fairly rare, which makes them a bit of a delicacy. So then, we had to look for a certain type of leaf, almost like a vine. Then, you have to try to follow the vine to where it enters the ground. Then, you have to dig, sometimes a foot down to find the root and the potato. It's a lot of work!

You can see the side of the "potato" showing in the access hole they dug.

The potato (looks more like a parsnip to me) , and the leaf we have to look for. 

Sal getting right in there looking for a single potato!

In all our hunting, we only found two potatoes! But the second one was much bigger. Apparently they can grow to 6 feet long and 10" diameter! Even the second one that Don Jose found was just over two feet long, and he broke part of it off to get it out.

Hiking back out.

Our potato hunting expedition! Ruth, Martin (holding the long potato), Fidel, Don Jose, and Sal.

This local dog in the village was watching the world go buy.

This little guy found himself an avocado to eat!

The local store had a solar hot water heater. Pretty high tech stuff for a village in the middle of nowhere.

Don Jose insisted that we keep the "potato" that he dug up. I still say they look like parsnips! Tonight, we're going to cook up some steaks and have Sal over for dinner. I guess we'll find out what these wild potatoes taste like!

11 comments:

  1. Sure looks like a fun expedition, all that work to get two potatoes, curious to see how they turned out.

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  2. Good thing the hunt was more for fun and adventure that for food...Hike expended more calories that you'll get from eating the potato...looks more like a walking stick. Maybe though its like truffles...very hard to come by but very good.
    Let us know how it tastes.

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  3. Yup, lot of patience involved there, it look like! Trick or Treat....send us something good to eat!

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  4. Well that was fun! Could these things be some sort of "original potato", like the ones taken back to the old world by the conquistadores?
    Just trying to figure out why the heck it's that long. Like you say, looks an awful lot like a parsnip.
    Hopefully it cooks up like a potato, and there's no crazy special method involved.

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  5. Oh my...I would have never thought that is what they look like!
    I am amazed at the computerized satellite learning systems in that remote area. Here in the good-old U.S.A., we can't get up-to-date textbooks in the classroom. Can you tell I am a retired school teacher. Soooo sad!

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  6. thats a heck of alot of work for 2 potatoes ;) can't wait to hear if they taste the same...great pics folks...you look so relaxed :)

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  7. That's getting your taters the hard way. But I guess the quest was more fun than going to Safeway!! Am anxious to hear how it tasted.

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  8. Who knew finding potatoes could be such hard work!

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  9. Make sure you tell us what the parsnip looking potatoes taste like. I'm amazed they had a school so well equipped for 16 households.

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  10. George and Suzie...We enjoyed the drive and hike with all the scenery. Not sure it is worth all that work though. We had the potatoes last night with our steak and the flavour was pretty non descript but I guess if you had to describe it then they did taste sort of like a potato but with a different texture.

    Donna W...Yes, it was definitely more for fun than for the potatoes. We were told that this spot really wasn't a good one after all. Apparently you can find them and dig them up much quicker in other areas but that they have already been picked over. They definitely don't taste like truffles but not sure the taste is worth all that work.

    Russ...Yes, lots of patience and work.

    Bob...Not sure if it some kind of original potato. To me it is more like the root of the vine and that is why it is long. It grows vertically so maybe it is reaching down for water. Doesn't taste like a parsnip. You basically cook it like a potato and it does sort of taste like one but it is a bit slimy and doesn't have the same texture.

    FULL-TIMERS...We couldn't believe that the little village had electricity but it does. They only have 20amp service but I guess that serves their needs. All schools in Mexico have a computer which we think is amazing given some of the remote locations.

    Elaine...It sure was a lot of work. When they are in an area that has lots of these vines it apparently doesn't take long to fill up the baskets.

    Donna K...Yes, lots more fun than going to the grocery store and much prettier scenery.

    Lea...Who knew!

    Paul...As I mentioned above they did taste similar to a potato but really I thought that it lacked flavour. They are a bit slimy in texture but not bad. I am going to try putting some into a curry that I will make today, we think it should work nicely in that.

    Kenny and Angela...All this helpful and need to know info. Make sure you study for it there may be a test later!

    Kevin and Ruth

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