The Global Table: Pass the Potatoes (Thanksgiving Edition)
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The Global Table: Pass the Potatoes (Thanksgiving Edition)

As you might have figured out by now, a big part of traveling is food. Food is powerful. It is the great connector—shaping our memories and cultivating community. Friends and strangers alike share their cultural traditions, their favorite foods, and their most treasured recipes.

You probably have your own story about how food has impacted your life. Maybe it’s the experience of sharing a family meal or a time when you tried something new (and delicious).

Surely, you’ll have some unforgettable meals on one of Rustic Pathways’ high school summer travel programs, but if you can’t wait for your trip to begin, here’s a recipe you can prepare at home.

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and… food.

Holiday food has always been special. We eat an incredible amount of food and much of the food we put on our table are rooted in some kind of tradition. You’ve probably noticed that most Thanksgiving tables will have a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green beans, plus a variety of side dishes.

While that food is special, I’ve often wanted my Thanksgiving meal to have a little international flare without compromising on tradition. That’s why this year I’m going to try something a little different.

I’m skipping the mashed potatoes and making one of these global potato dishes (or all three) from one of Rustic’s teen travel program destinations. Try incorporating one into your holiday meal this year and get inspired to see the world.

Potatoes for lunch in Peru

Potatoes for lunch in Peru

Papa a la Huancaina

This Peruvian potato dish is composed of thickly sliced boiled potatoes that are covered in a subtly spicy, cheesy, salty blanket of Huancaina sauce.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6, as a side

6 yellow potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste (or half a habanero… may be spicier!)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 saltine crackers
8 ounces queso fresco
1 cup evaporated milk
Salt to taste

To serve
Hard boiled eggs, cut in half
Black olives
Parsley, chopped

  • Boil the potatoes until soft and easily pierced with a fork. Thickly slice the potatoes, about a 1/2 inch.
  • In a blender, process the aji amarillo paste, oil, evaporated milk, crackers, queso fresco, and salt.
  • Place the potato slices on a plate and cover with the sauce.
  • Decorate with black olives, hard boiled eggs, and parsley.

Bombay Potatoes

These Indian inspired potatoes are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and incredibly flavorful.

Prep time: 1 hour
Servings: 6, as a side

6 yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons black mustard seed
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala

To serve
Parsley, chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the potatoes in a large pot along with 1 teaspoon of the salt, turmeric, and enough water to cover by one inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the potatoes from the water and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add the oil, mustard seed, curry powder, garam masala, and remaining salt to the bowl and toss with potatoes. Transfer the potatoes to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping the potatoes once half-way through. Remove from oven once the potatoes are fork-tender. Serve hot.

Maakouda Batata

A popular street food in Morocco, these spiced potato cakes can be eaten as a side or as a sandwich filler in khobz.

Prep time: 2 hours
Servings: 15 3-inch potato cakes

6 yellow potatoes, peeled
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
3 or 4 cloves garlic (pressed)
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 eggs (beaten)
Oil (for frying)

  • Peel the potatoes and place in a pot. Cover with salted water and boil just until a sharp knife can be inserted halfway through the potatoes. Drain the potatoes and plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again, and allow to cool a bit. Chill the potatoes, covered, in the refrigerator for an hour or even overnight if you have the time.
  • Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the onions and saute them gently over medium-low heat for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and saute just a minute more, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
  • Grate the chilled potatoes into a mixing bowl. Gently toss in the spices, onions, garlic, and cilantro. Stir in enough of the eggs to bind the potatoes, but not so much that there is excess egg in the bottom of the bowl.
  • Shape the potato mixture into cakes about 3 inches in diameter. Wet hands will make the mixture easier to handle.
  • Heat enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom of a skillet or griddle. Add the potato cakes and cook slowly over medium heat, about 5 to 10 minutes per side, until deep golden brown. Serve the maakouda warm.

Follow along with The Global Table for more food tips, stories, and recipes.

About the Author

Naomi Tao

Creative Lead and Graphic Designer

Born in London and raised in St. Louis, Naomi learned the importance of global citizenship and community building at an early age. Her passion for these things and her love of travel led her to Rustic —first as a student and again in 2013 after graduating from the University of Southern California with degrees in fine art and marketing. When Naomi is not managing the Rustic Pathways brand or packing her bags for yet another adventure, you can find her learning about sustainable agriculture, cultivating fruits and vegetables in her garden, or catering intimate dinner parties for family and new friends.