Paysage à Manger, however, does not look back to the past, but ahead, at the future: ‘We have to be positively innovative. As lecturer Massimo Angelini (a cultural historian, a publisher, the former President of the Consorzio della Quarantina association and the national coordinator of the national network Semi Rurali (rural seeds), Author’s Note) explained to us during the “on-campus” course, tradition always includes some innovative elements” says Federico Rial. “This land deserves top-quality agriculture, which also stems from the decision to sustain biodiversity by selecting ancient seeds. What drives us it not just a sense of responsibility and a shared passion; our choice is also a profitable one – adds Federico Chierico – If we grew the same potatoes that are on sale in supermarkets, we would have already shut down”. 30% of Paysage à Manger’s market is now linked to the restaurants and catering sector: “We offer chefs an ingredient that has a story” says Federico Rial.

Besides growing potatoes, since 2015 Paysage à Manger has had a mountain vegetable garden too. We grow “veritable vegetables”, they joke, playing with words. 120 different varieties of vegetables and pulses are grown over an area of five thousand square metres. Consumers can pick the vegetables with the owners or even be given a plot of land to grow their own crops. A wooden hut has been built next to the field, where produce is sold directly to customers: “This way we can offer fresh produce every day. This is an unprecedented initiative in the valley, very much appreciated not only by tourists, but also by restaurateurs” underlines Chierico. Potatoes too are sold retail, with prices ranging between €2 and €7 per kilogram. A booklet describes Paysage à Manger’s “edible culture” catalogue and teaches the farm’s customers how to make the most of each potato variety when cooking. The Cerisa, for example, is excellent boiled, while the Corne de Gatte is at its best when baked in the oven with its skin on.

In Paysage à Manger’s fields, one can find potatoes from the Walser tradition, old and rare varieties, gourmet potatoes, as well as very common ones. Next to each individual product, the catalogue provides information on its most widespread use and how to cook it. There are “Type A” potatoes, which can bear a long cooking time without flaking, have a firm, non-floury, moist, fine-grained texture, contain a lot of water, and have a low starch content. They are ideal for salads and perfect for steam-cooking, gratins, stews, and to accompany juicy roasts.
“Type B” potatoes, on the other hand, have a medium texture, medium moisture, and medium dry matter content. This makes them suitable for a wide variety of recipes: they can be used in salads or gratins, baked, mashed, fried or to make gnocchi. “Type C” potatoes, in turn, have a floury, rather tender, dry and fairly coarse-textured pulp; they tend to disintegrate during cooking, which makes them perfect for frying, mashing, gnocchi, croquettes and desserts.

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