Blue-Blood Spuds

As I was digging into dinner last night, I surveyed the contents of my plate and decided the food was looking rather pedestrian. Yes, I’d topped the roast pork with a tasty sour cream and onion sauce. I added lemon zest and shredded cheese to the broccoli. But the potatoes were run-of-the-mill, simply diced and baked with nothing but salt and pepper. I could’ve done more there; a lot more. Starting with potatoes from La Bonnotte.  It’s just, I don’t want to spend $300 for a pound of them.

$300 for potatoes – yikes.  It sounds ridiculous unless you’re British royalty or the finest restaurants in Europe.  A couple of medium-sized Russets – the ones we bake – weigh a pound, but the Bonnotte potato is more like the small red ones you cut up and season. 10-12 Bonnottes in a pound; so like, $30 each.  That’s a pricey bite (and not exactly “small potatoes”).  But if you’re willing, you can purchase your share of this delicacy; that is if you’re quick.  They’re only on the market ten days a year.

What makes the Bonnotte the aristocrat of spuds?  Here’s the meat and potatoes of it:

  1. La Bonnotte potatoes are found on a small island off the Atlantic coast of France, and nowhere else.  It’s as if they’re grown in some fortified castle, surrounded by a wide moat.
  2. The potato field is limited to fifty square meters, so they’re not even using the entire island.  You could walk the perimeter of the entire crop in about five minutes.
  3. Even though the island soil is ideal for growing La Bonnottes, the “secret sauce” is nearby seaweed and algae, mixed into the dirt by hand.  This is perhaps the first time I’ve heard of a good use for seaweed.
  4. Every Bonnotte is harvested by hand, then treated, cleaned, and sold by a small cooperative of local farmers.  Talk about an exclusive club.
  5. As I said, the harvest is only available for purchase ten days a year.  Mark your calendars for May 1-10, 2023.
The island of Noirmoutier-en-l’ile has a church, a chateau, and very expensive potatoes.

Here’s my favorite reason to buy this hot potato (and for heaven’s sake, don’t drop one): you don’t peel them.  You shouldn’t peel them.  Their unique flavor – tastes of lemon, earth, “the sea”, and chestnut – is most concentrated in the skin.  You eat them just the way they come out of the ground.

Luxuo is an online news portal whose mission is “to uncover the values which permeate the fiber of the world’s most recognizable luxury brands” (Got all that?) The Luxuo website has a dropdown menu for timepieces, yachting, motoring, properties…. and now you’ll find potatoes, because La Bonnottes (you don’t even call them “potatoes” at this price) are the most expensive potatoes in the world.  By some measures they’re one of the most expensive foods in the world.  Saffron, macadamia nuts, Beluga caviar, and white truffles are the top four, followed by La Bonnottes.  Blue-blood spuds indeed.

[Author’s Note: I just had to know why we refer to things as “blue blood”.  The term originated in Spain.  It was used to differentiate between people with light skin from those with darker complexions. The veins of southern Europeans appeared bluer due to their pale and translucent skin. Wealthy landowners or their descendents were part of an upper class in Spain, and somewhere along the line the veins were associated with wealth.  Not a look I prefer, but the money is tempting.]

Couch potato fare

After the La Bonnotte harvest and sell, a small number of the potatoes are reserved for a local festival, where they’re served plain, just as you see them in the entertaining video below (because no other ingredient deserves to share the pan).  Who can blame the farmers for throwing a party?  They’ve convinced the world to purchase potatoes for $300/pound yet again, just as they’ve done for decades before.

Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to Life In A Word.

13 thoughts on “Blue-Blood Spuds”

  1. Wouldn’t it be funny if we found out there was a drought, they ran out of their La Bonnette potatoes and bought our little golden variety (they look the same), and still got their high price. It would be interesting to do a taste test. Hard to imagine they would taste so different. I guess the PRICE can make things taste LUXURIOUS, right! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m without words [almost] about these exclusive, expensive potatoes. I come from sturdy Irish ancestors who instilled in me a love of potatoes, but no way in heck would I pay for the ones you’re talking about here. It’s a potato and they’re pretty much all the same to me and my unsophisticated palate. Didn’t know about the derivation of blue blood. Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. La Bonnotte reminds me of the purchasing nonsense you see on eBay, Ally. You know some people have way too much money when you look at the purchase price of items that have no perceived value other than to say, “I own this”. I’m sure restaurants that serve the potatoes have to tell this story to justify whatever they charge for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so going to mark my calendar – just to note what I’m not spending my money on. But on a more serious note: My wife buys seaweed concentrated plant fertilizer for her tomatoes. You get it in 1 gallon bottles and it really helps the tomatoes. We buy it on-line because we live so far from a coast that we can’t collect our own seaweed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. La Bonnottes are ridiculous but the seaweed and algae infusion was admittedly interesting. I wouldn’t pay $300 for the treatment but I can see how it would improve the final product.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are all about the puns so I’m just trying to keep up. And yes, people are weird. Including both of us, if I may be so complimentary.


  4. This was a fun post and video Dave. I am amazed at the price and the process before they are scooped up and then shipped out for others to enjoy. I wonder if the other folks are like the locals and enjoy their Bonnottes with sardines? Eww. My mom was a fan of new potatoes, which you leave the skins on to eat them. For years, in late August and September, my parents would drive out in the country to buy new potatoes and beefsteak tomatoes. This was before big produce stores or specialty produce areas at grocery stores were popular. My mom would scrub the new potatoes, then boil them and put big dollops of butter on top – she would make a meal of them and was in her glory!
    (Linda Schaub – I am getting a weird “comment message” and came here as you are not in my Reader feed.)

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    1. I was going to mention the sardines, Linda, but I thought it best to leave that detail in the video. On the one hand, I get it; the sardines are probably as available as the potatoes during the festival. On the other hand, it’s a strange pairing, isn’t it? Kind of a prince and pauper on the same plate.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a strange pairing Dave, but to them the potatoes are more ordinary I would guess – they have the festival and all, but it’s likely just another meal to them. My father was German and he liked pickled herring. My mom would buy it in a jar, already marinated and in a white-colored cream sauce. He liked it with potatoes and we did not fight with him to share his treat.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. That is a lot of gravy for a pound of potatoes! I think I like potatoes too much to try these. Either I would like them as well as any others and would feel cheated, or I would find them so delicious that I would drive myself to financial ruin by the need to keep them in my pantry.

    If I had any gardening skills at all, I would dig up my backyard and grow artisan tomatoes. I could come up with some unique feature of the dirt (it’s seasoned by the roots of old walnut trees) and then employ some tattooed hipsters to pick and pack them, and sell them as the only tomatoes of their kind in the entire world. I could retire in no time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought the same thing, J P. If the French can create a unique and pricey market out of a seemingly simple commodity, why can’t we? People will buy anything. It’s almost more about the brag than the product itself.

      Liked by 1 person

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