My bride and I love to watch certain cooking shows. Not all of them - Emeril makes me want to drive a meat thermometer through my brain every time he yells BAM - but I could happily watch Paula Deen whip up her deep-fried mayonnaise surprise with butter cream frosting any day of the week. For those of you who have seen her show: yes, my people really do eat like that. Because we believe heart surgeons need to work for their living, too.
I can't remember exactly the show we were watching, but someone was making some dish with 'fingerling potatoes', and it looked absolutely delicious. I am a fan of the potato in nearly any form as it is, but in our house, rice is our principle starch dish. The Brits think I'm kidding when I tell them we buy our rice in the 20 kilo bag. (This came up when I came into work gushing about our new rice cooker. Because we cook so much rice, the rice cooker generally stays out on the counter all the time. The problem is that nearly every rice cooker ever made looks like it was designed by a 1950's Soviet marketing team. They're ugly. Sometimes, they're ugly with flowers. Cuisinart has finally produced one that doesn't look like a poke in the eye when sitting next to our KitchenAid.)
The fingerling potato dish (and at this point, I can barely remember the recipe - roasted with garlic & onions or something) looked like a delicious new way to sample potatoes, however, and even my bride was anxious to try it out.
Having never actually done research into the fingerling potato market, though, we soon found out that it's not something your local Safeway carries typically. This was long enough ago that we took a special trip down to the San Francisco farmer's market at the Ferry building to hunt us up some. Sure enough, some local hippie had organically grown his own fingerling heirloom varietal. We bought enough to feed a family of twelve. It cost only slightly less than my first car.
We were nearly trembling with excitement when we went to make them, anticipating the special fingerling goodness that had enticed us from the TV screen into setting out on our special fingerling quest. I think we made lamb to go with them (nothing says 'special' like a piece of baby sheep on your plate).
I was almost jumping up and down by the time we plated our meals - I cut into the first elongated little potato and popped it into my mouth. You know what it tasted like?
I asked my bride if hers tasted different. Hers tasted like potato too. On reflection, I'm not sure what we expected it to taste like. Finger? Hmm. What would that taste like? Chicken? That probably wouldn't have met expectations either. But at least it might have gone some way to justify our three week quest to seek out the legendary fingerling.
Since then, we're still unable to go to a fancy restaurant and see 'fingerling potatoes' on the menu without giggling like rhesus monkeys. It's awkward, because I generally end up explaining this entire story to the waitress, who loses interest somewhere between Paula Deen and the rice cooker bits.