Agerola Food Festival: Gusta la Patata

This is going to be the 10th edition of Agerola’s potato festival Gusta la Patata (literally: Enjoy the Potato) which takes place in the village of S. Maria Manna, a hamlet of Agerola. Well, on August 14 and 15, let’s all meet on the Amalfi Coast, behind Furore, on the slopes of the Lattari mountains, there where Agerola is, a village that even in summer is ‘affected’ by a pleasing breeze, thus its nickname Little Switzerland.

Over the two days and during the preceding weeks, hundreds of people are involved in the festival organization, including chefs, peasants and workers, which will set up food stalls, and prepare dishes strictly based on potatoes and seafood.

The Potato, star of the festival, has always been one of the typical rural products of Campania and therefore it is a main ingredient in many dishes of local gastronomy. Potatoes have meant salvation for Agerola, as they have fed villagers and displaced people in the early centuries of the Year One thousand, when people fled inland after the ships of the Saracens, Pisans or Turks appeared on the horizon.

The Potato Festival of Agerola, in Borgata Santa Maria, is part of an ancient attitude widespread all over the Amalfi Coast, and still alive in the spirit of these people: cooperation between villagers to help making their towns and territory more beautiful, but also solidarity in case of need. With the Potato Festival, for example, the party committee La Manna annually raises funds for the restoration of the church of S. Maria La Manna, severely damaged by an earthquake in 1980.

The Committee La Manna, promoter of the event, has also announced the line up for the Potato Festival of Agerola: the evening of the 14th will be enlivened by Mal (the now legendary artist Paul Bradley Couling, author of the children’s song ‘Furia cavallo del West’ (1977) a half million records sold), while on August 15th, an evening of cabaret music and shows awaits visitors with the group Orchestra Gruppo Simpatia and Antonio Fiorillo.

Finally, here is a typical recipe from Agerola: Squids and Potatoes. In these lands of earth and sea, “squid and potatoes” is one of the most traditional dishes. The recipe is very simple: fry two garlic cloves in olive oil, with 1/2 hot pepper and sliced onion. After browning all these ingredients, add the squid into pieces and a glass of white wine, possibly Furore Bianco Doc wine. Let evaporate for ten minutes, then add the diced potatoes. Sprinkle with parsley to taste, and cook for fifteen minutes over low heat. Serve and enjoy.

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