Potato Mystery Solved!

In yesterday’s post, I hinted at a potato mystery that had been plaguing us.  Yesterday evening, it solved itself.

Last spring, we ordered five heirloom/unusual varieties of potatoes (Angeliter Tannenzapfen, Schwarze Ungarin,  Heiderot, Nemo, and Gunda) because we were bored with growing Lindas, Sieglindes, Lauras, and Vitelottes like everybody else around here because those are the seed potatoes you can typically buy in the shops.  I also planted my second round of Russet potatoes, which I am growing up from three potatoes I brought back with me one and a half years ago from the US (although it’s clear they like Idaho better than northern Germany).

I pulled the Russets out already a week or two ago, because the plants were just done, thank you, and from the three or four small seed potatoes left over from last year, I ended up with a couple of kilos of Russets (about 30 half-ish of store bought sized Russet potatoes, plus about ten small seed potatoes).

Yesterday (as perhaps you saw in the pix) we dug out the Angeliter Tannenzapfen and the Schwarze Ungarin. (The Schwarze Ungarin, btw, has dark blue-purple skin that starts to look black (but I would say doesn’t make it all the way) when it dries, but the flesh is white.) Today we will dig out the Heiderot (red all the way through), the Nemo (skin looks like a dairy cow’s would, if dairy cows were salmon and beige instead of black and white), and the Gunda (a boring replacement for whatever it was we’d ordered but was already sold out for the year).  We’ll also dig out the Lauras we planted again because they were a nice red skinned, white fleshed potato.

The mystery that solved itself had to do with the Angeliter Tannenzapfen potatoes.  Tannenzapfen I could understand.  That just means the cones of a fir tree and the potatoes are reminiscent of the young cones, before they open up.  But Angeliter?  That is not a German word I had encountered before.  I asked Spouse and he just shrugged.  No idea.  He hadn’t even encountered that word before either, even if German was his native tongue.  So I chalked it up to having some local meaning in Platt here in Schleswig-Holstein (because that’s where the variety springs from).  Like maybe HEAVENLY fir cone potatoes or TASTY fir cone potatoes or, more likely, given the -er ending, fir cone potatoes from some long lost village or farm named Angelite.

Then last night was our weekly movie night and while everyone was standing around drinking beer and wine outside our barn before showtime and the one or two smokers smoking, I was just standing there unattached to any conversation (story of my life).  Then my radar informed me that Bernd, local cinematographer who has taken a shine to Spouse after randomly stumbling across him because they are both interested in air-source heat pumps powered by solar panels, had said the word “angeliter”.

Seizing this once in a lifetime chance (for how often does angeliter come up in conversation????), I interrupted to ask him what angeliter meant.  At which point he dropped the conversation he was having and gave me a five minute history of Anglia (to which I was a bit, oh, duh!, although I would have never made the connection between angeliter and Angles).  Which turns out to be a specific area slightly north of here, which is only shocking in that I hadn’t bothered to get around to realizing this before (because Western Civ).

So, Angeliter Tannenzapfen are potatoes that were developed (in the first half of the 20th century, I think) by a farmer somewhere in Anglia, that land that, yes, the Angles lived in, and from which we derived the words Anglo and English.  (Yes, I am living at the historical crossroads of the Angles, the Saxons, and the Juts, a fact that has slowly been intruding its way into my consciousness over the last several years).  Anglia is/was the peninsula (to me it’s more of a bulge) about an hour north of here by car.  Apparently they still speak a very strange Platt there, but, I don’t know, our across the street neighbor Holger grew up speaking the local Platt there and I don’t find it stranger than any other Platt.  Once you figure out what word he’s actually saying (sounds have trouble emerging from a closed mouth, which seems to be how this version of Platt is spoken), it’s not so far off High German.  (Although after 50 years of living with him, his wife, who can understand my slaughtering of German just fine, can’t follow two people having a conversation in Holger’s Platt, so maybe for Germans, it is super strange.)

The movie we watched, which, unlike last week’s, was not one of Bernd’s, was a formulaic, light-hearted romp, as entertaining as a French film making fun of a local dialect/way of life dubbed into German could be. Which is to say it was a million times better than The Money Pit was, but although I’d be slightly tempted to watch it again in French with English subtitles, our up the street cow, sheep, and chicken farmers whose DVD it was, took it back home with them at the end of the evening (I wish they’d taken their bottle of Jaegermeister home with them instead and left us the DVD for a week!), so that’s not going to happen.

In the meantime, Bernd has threatened to borrow Spouse for a commercial he is shooting involving marital strife.  Hah!  I think this is very funny.  I don’t know if Spouse can act (he is totally incapable of lying convincingly), but he can most certainly shout.  🙂

(parenthetical note: ARGH.  Holger’s wife appeared just as I was about to hit publish with lettuce for the chickens and the sad news that the other across the street neighbors thousand dollar, sweet little 7 month old Bengal cat died on Friday, after eating a poisoned rat.  And then she said that one of her cats died (years and years ago) because the husband in the Bengal cat household once put out rat traps all over the fields baited with meat and her cat got itself mangled by one and then died.  Which is why it is so damned hard to get rid of rats if you don’t want to do in everything else!!!  Poison poisons everything that eats it or the rat that was poisoned and traps break any bone that springs them, so are only deployable in rooms only rats can get into (and anyway after one rat dies, the rest stay away from the traps). We are really at our wit’s end over this problem.  Short of getting rid of our own chickens (and therefore the chicken food), I don’t know what else we can do.  But there would still be rats because of the alpacas, cows, and the other two flocks of chickens and all the hay and feed stored here in all the barns of the active and retired farmers.)

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