Humans have been cultivating potatoes for 10,000 years. Beginning in South America in 8000 BC, potatoes have taken root in almost every culture on the planet. A super-versatile vegetable, potatoes can be found in Belgium’s salty, crispy fries; Indonesia’s sweet and spicy sambal goreng kentang; and Ecuador’s fluffy, cheesy llapingacho. From pairings with fried onions and red chilies in Bangladesh to cheese curds and gravy in Canada, potatoes are part of diets across the globe.
Lore has it that fries were invented in Belgium in 1680 when a river froze over, making it impossible to fish, and innovative cooks fried potatoes instead. Today, chip shops in Belgium serve thick-cut fries, crisp and crunchy on the outside, plump and soft on the inside, with a slew of savory sauces.
Llapingacho are potato pancakes spiced with onions, cumin, and achiote, which has a peppery flavor and turns the whole dish orange, then stuffed with queso fresco. The pancake is panfried until golden brown with an ultra-crispy exterior and a creamy, smooth interior. Crash hot potatoes are a cross between smashed and loaded potatoes.
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