Hi Blog. Today is Friday, August 23, 2013. We only have a couple days left in Pocatello and wanted to get out and visit a couple museums in the area. Most folks know that Idaho is famous for its potatoes. Well, Pocatello is located in the heart of the potato belt. In order to get a better understanding of this area, we felt a visit to the Idaho Potato Museum was in order.
What self respecting potato museum wouldn't have a giant potato on their front lawn!
There's a lot about the potato that we don't know. Marilyn was willing to give Dave a hand in understanding the fascinating history of the potato.
For example, did you know that potatoes originated in southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia, where they were domesticated 7,000–10,000 years ago? Following centuries of selective breeding, there are now over a thousand different types of potatoes. Of these subspecies, a variety that at one point grew in the Chiloé Archipelago left its germplasm on over 99% of the cultivated potatoes worldwide. How cool is that?
It was the Spanish that introduced the potato to Europe in 1537. The potato had a hard time being accepted. In England, it was considered so poisonous or unhealthy that it was condemned by the Society for the Prevention of Unwholesome Diets (or S.P.U.D.). As a result, potatoes earned the nickname of "spuds" in England. However, some scholars believe that the name spud actually came from the digging tool used to plant potatoes. However, historians still argue over which origin is correct. So, pick which ever version you like. Here is a chart showing the spread of potatoes all over the world.
Back in Peru, they were busy making Chuño - a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made by Quechua and Aymara communities. It is a five-day process, obtained by exposing a frost-resistant variety of potatoes to the very low night temperatures of the Andean Altiplano, freezing them, and subsequently exposing them to the intense sunlight of the day. The word comes from Quechua ch'uñu, meaning frozen potato.
The museum was full of all kinds of potato artifacts, including the potato autographed by former Vice President Dan Quayle. You remember Dan, he's the guy that liked to spell potato with an "e" at the end.
Potatoes have become one of the most widely consumed crops. French fries and often hash browns are commonly found in typical American fast-food burger joints and cafeterias. One popular favorite involves a baked potato with cheddar cheese (or sour cream and chives) on top, and in New England "smashed potatoes" (a chunkier variation on mashed potatoes, retaining the peel) have great popularity. Potato flakes are popular as an instant variety of mashed potatoes, which reconstitute into mashed potatoes by adding water, with butter or oil and salt to taste. A regional dish of Central New York, salt potatoes are bite-size new potatoes boiled in water saturated with salt then served with melted butter. At more formal dinners, a common practice includes taking small red potatoes, slicing them, and roasting them in an iron skillet. The practice of eating latkes (fried potato pancakes) is common during the festival of Hanukkah. Potatoes are so popular, there is even a song about them. Hear Jimmy Murphy singing that popular classic, "Tears in the Eyes of a Potato"
Let's not forget that wonderful invention, the Pringles potato crisp. Here is the world's largest Pringle!
There were lots of fun hands-on displays.
After immersing ourselves in all things potato, it was time for lunch. We headed over to Martha's Cafe for some good homestyle cooking. We couldn't help it. We both ordered baked potatoes with the works!
Our next stop, was the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Museum
on the Fort Hall Reservation. The Tribes are composed of several Shoshone and Bannock bands that were forced to the Fort Hall Reservation, which eventually became the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. There are approximately 5,681 enrolled tribal members with a majority living on or near the Fort Hall Reservation. Through its self-governing rights afforded under the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868 and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the Tribe manages its own schools, post office, grocery store, waste disposal, agriculture and commercial businesses, rural transits, casinos, and more.
We learned a lot from our visit to the museum. The Shoshone-Bannock people have overcome a lot of hardships, most of which were caused by the government's mismanagement of the reservation. However, that didn't stop many of the residents from serving in the military. We especially enjoyed learning some of the oral traditions, especially the one of the four seasons.
"Long ago according to legend, before everything was planned, the animals gathered together to decide how much winter and summer there should be. Coyote urged that summer be ten moons long so there would be lots of time to hunt and less time to fight the snow and cold.
"But the Bear argued for more winter when the animals could rest. The Deer and Elk sided with Coyote knowing that winter is a hard season to find food while the squirrels argued that when there is too much summer, things get very dry.
"They argued on with Coyote demanding ten moons of summer. Finally he shouted so much he had to rush outside to cool off. While he was gone, Robin took charge and suggested that there be equal winter and summer seasons and a time in between when it would not be too cold or too dry.
"Soon all the other animals agreed and now there are four seasons - one to hunt, one to sleep, one to build nests and one to gather the harvests of the land. All had to adapt and enjoy each season as it continued its circle of life."
Isn't it nice to know where we got the four seasons?
We finished out stop at the reservation with a little shopping.