“The first potatoes were brought from Peru by Juan Bautista de Castro in the year 1622. This man had them planted in his lands in Icod el Alto from where they have so happily spread throughout the Canaries.” This is what the priest and historian José Antonio de Viera y Clavijo wrote in his Dictionary of Natural History of the Canary Islands in 1799. Viera y Clavijo most likely referred to those known as pretty potatoes or old potatoes, varieties that are characterized by their high quality and peculiar shapes and colors, since common potatoes would have reached the Canary Islands earlier, it is estimated that in the first years of the 1560s.
What is clear is that old potatoes, since their arrival in Icod el Alto, in the municipality of Los Realejos, have become a hallmark of the northern municipality. Hence, the Royal City Council takes into account both the importance of these varieties and their history. The first deputy mayor, Adolfo González, the councilor for Rural Development, Alexis Hernández, and the representative of the La Papa Bonita Association Judith Delgado, presented yesterday the logo and the mascot of the acts that will be held next year for the 4th centenary of the first planting of old Canarian potatoes in Icod el Alto, an event that will be commemorated with a program of activities to be defined.
The deputy mayor indicated that «Los Realejos cannot let this date pass due to the symbolic burden it has and the importance of this product over time for this municipality for which the potato represents both as a configurator of an agricultural landscape, as a livelihood for many families, as a gastronomic and distinctive promotional axis, among many other conditioning factors ».
The mayor of Rural Development recalled, for his part, “the commitment to the conservation and promotion of the pretty potato and all that this has meant for so many royal families for four centuries, with special significance for the nucleus of Icod el Alto, from where there is evidence of that historic first planting, but also outstanding crops of this product in Palo Blanco or Las Llanadas, to name other corners of Los Realejos ».
Canarian old potatoes have 46 different varieties, although there are 29 genetically cultivated for 400 years. Among the most common varieties, it is worth mentioning under the Protected Designation of Origin the Negrita de El Hierro, the Buena Moza or Palmera, Blanca, Colorada, De la Tierra. There are also the Black and White Lily, the Beautiful Black, White and Red, Beautiful Wound, Beautiful Partridge Eye, Borralla, Colorada de Baba, Corralera Tijarafera, Corraleda Colorada, Corraleda Legitima, Carralera, Negra de La Palma, Black Veined, Striped or Jorge, Haragana, Blue Eye, White, Camel Bow Tie, Black Egg Yolk, White Wig, Black Wig, Red Wig and Terrenta.
4,000 hectares in the Islands
About 4,000 hectares of cultivation are currently dedicated to the cultivation of ancient potatoes, mainly in Tenerife and more specifically in Icod el Alto, which has an area of about 1,000 hectares devoted to this tuber.
The Los Realejos Town Hall and the La Papa Bonita Association have begun to work to prepare the commemorative acts of the fourth centenary of the arrival of these varieties, increasingly coveted by creative gastronomy. The logo is a creation of Juan Antonio Martín Muñoz, while the mascot, called Bonita, has been created from the proposals of schoolchildren in the municipality, which were brought to the Municipal Council for Children on November 9. and Adolescence and among the finalist drawings, those by Dara Díaz Rodríguez (from CEO La Pared) and Leire Herrera Martín (from CEIP Pérez Zamora) were chosen, whose final result of the mascot is a fusion of the proposals of both.
In the absence of specifying the program, what is certain is that there will be talks, routes, exhibitions, field work with schoolchildren, or the collection and dissemination of recipes. Judith Delgado announced that her association La Papa Bonita will be in charge of a project from January to June in the educational centers of Los Realejos where the children of the municipality “will be able to learn step by step from their own practice the whole process of growing the pretty potato in the semester that lasts its process from sowing to harvest.