Living, May is Mental Health Month, Mental Health

Patate Pazze

Crazy potatoes.

I found the recipe for this dish, a Campomelano classic, in A Year in the Village of Eternity: The Lifestyle of Longevity in Campodimele, Italy by Tracey Lawson.

I thought, how ironic, the name of this dish, given that it was potatoes that nearly made me go crazy.  Now there’s a food ripe with metaphor.  How witty, how clever I am.

Then I went back and read the entire chapter in which this recipe is featured: The Mountain Gives You Everything.  Lawson explains that it’s a phrase uttered over and over by the residents of this mountainous Italian village, meaning, “in every moment, in every season, the mountain provides all the things you really need; the very essentials of life.”

And just like that my metaphor switched from potato to mountain.

Do I need the crazy potatoes dug up from the earth of the mountain?  No.

Were they there, ripe for the harvest?  Yes.

And when did they become crazy?  When mixed with the greens and grasses that also occur naturally on my mountain.

“Seek and the mountain will give,” says Lawson; to which an aged resident says, “You just need to know where to look.”

But Lawson also stresses that “it’s really a question of knowing how to look.”

I think that potatoes popping up all over the fields of our lives crowd out our ability to look.  Add the wild greens of distraction, stress, and overwhelming life events sprouting up wherever they may and often spreading like wildfire – and it’s a recipe for disaster.

But the wild greens boiled with the potatoes for patate pazze, are used “to flavour potatoes which may be past their best after more than six months languishing in the cantina.”

Did I not respond well to the stresses of my life because I was already languishing?

Or were they sent to me to add some dimension to my life, stir things up, a zesty flavor to respond to?

In any event, I may have found a way around my abhorrence for chopping potatoes.  This recipe calls for boiling the potatoes in their skins, slipping them out once cooked, and then slicing them, which would no doubt be much easier than chopping them raw – no matter how many cranky kids circle my feet.  I’m willing to take whatever the mountain will give.


All quotes and references come from the following:

9781596915022Lawson, Tracey.  A Year in the Village of Eternity: The Lifestyle of Longevity in Campodimele, Italy.  New York: Bloomsbury, 2011.


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