Potato cultivation came from America and settled in the Canary Islands from the experience in the orchards in Icod el Alto, in Los Realejos, now 400 years ago. Four centuries later, the potato is still the star crop in this municipality in the North of Tenerife, where it occupies 33% of the entire cultivated area. Especially in the mid-range nucleus that was the cradle of the potato in the Canary Islands, where it also emerged the La Papa Bonita Association in 2010, a group that tries to claim the importance of this agrarian and gastronomic treasure that in Icod el Alto it is pure tradition and family. There are producers involved in the maintenance of old varieties, but Judith Delgado, representative of this association, is clear that the burden of preserving pretty potatoes falls on the hands of hundreds of Imodaltera families who keep them, from generation to generation, in their small gardens.
The Bonita Potato Association has a few partners, but Judith Delgado assumes that its work to disseminate and defend this key product in the culture and landscape of Icod el Alto It contributes decisively to its conservation and expansion, “even on other islands.” He states that “more and more people are interested in recovering these traditional varieties,” even if they are not the most profitable or the most productive. In his neighborhood, his future is more than guaranteed: «Here practically all families grow potatoes, in each house there is a piece that is reserved for the pretty potatoes. Our involvement as a people is so evident that we have not lost them for 400 years.
“Our involvement as a people is so evident that we have not lost them for 400 years.”
The Dictionary of Natural History of the Canary Islands, published by historian José de Viera y Clavijo in 1799, he points out that «the first potatoes were brought from Peru Juan Bautista de Castro around the year 1622. This man made them sow in his lands of Icod el Alto from where they have so happily spread throughout all the Canary Islands». An anniversary that turns four centuries in 2022 and that this association and the Royal City Council will celebrate with various activities throughout the year.
Eovaldo Hernandez, Professor of Plant Science and Biochemistry, points out in the Book the Old Potatoes of the Canary Islands that «although the presence of the potato in the Canary Islands from 1560 seems confirmed, its cultivation was done, probably, sporadically, without much diffusion; as in Europe, where it began as a garden curiosity; So it seems logical to think that it was the introduction of 1622, cited by Viera, made in an optimal soil and climate, which had a shocking effect and contributed to spreading the cultivation in the Islands. The place of introduction of the potato, Icod el Alto, continues to be one of the areas where the cultivation has more roots, with the presence of primitive varieties that have disappeared elsewhere.
Despite the fact that for years it has been a vindication of the defenders of the pretty potato, Icod el Alto it will not have a Potato House Museum. This project is not part of the plans of the City Council or the Tenerife Council. Municipal sources explain that the potato probably has a specific space in a more generic project on the local traditions of Los Realejos.
This month the planting of the pretty potatoes will begin, a product whose quality and authenticity was recognized in Europe ten years ago. The Official Journal of the European Union on February 4, 2012, he published the request for the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) of Canarian Old Potatoes, which refers to «potato tubers from varieties known in the Canary Islands as ancient, local, traditional, colored or from the earth. Grown in the Canary Islands, from seed obtained in the production area and belonging to the species Solanum Tuberosum Andean Subspecies, Solanum Tuberosum subspecies tuberosum and triploid Solanum Chaucha, introduced in the Canary Islands in dates before the twentieth century.
The recognition of the EU took place on October 25, 2012, when the new denomination was registered in the Register of Protected Designations of Origin (PDO). Since then this title of Canarian Old Potatoes It is another way to meet the pretty birds eye, white, black and red potatoes; lilies; tassels; wigs; colorada de baga, or la terrenta, among others.