A new foreign boat pulled into the marina and tied up at the end of the next T-dock down from us. We could see their flag flapping in the wind, but couldn't identify it. White, red and blue horizontal stripes … not Dutch … perhaps Eastern European? We had to consult our little flag book before we determined that it was a Russian flag. A couple of days later, the boat pulled into the berth beside us. We were surprised to see the boat's name hand-scrawled (or was that spray paint?) in large red-orange letters on the hull … Berserk. We knew a Berserk from New Zealand, but it had met an unfortunate end in Antarctica … the boat sunk and three of its five-member crew were lost. How many Berserks could there be?
Sure enough, Jarle stopped by and after a few minutes of reminiscing, we determined it was the same guy on a different boat which he'd once again named Berserk. When I think of the word “berserk”, I think frenzied, deranged, going crazy … someone going over the deep edge. Berserk has come to mean this in English, but in actuality the word is borrowed from Norse mythology. It refers to the “berserkers”, Norse warriors who worshiped Odin and fought in a trance-like frenzied rage that some think might have been induced by eating hallucinogenic 'shrooms. These guys wore bear and wolf skins to make themselves even more ferocious looking. The word berserker comes from the Old Norse meaning “bear coat”. Just a little more trivia for you. Moving on … Jarle is Norwegian, though his boat is now Russian-flagged, and considers himself a modern day Viking, perhaps akin to a berserker.
Back to the story at hand … I get side-tracked so easily. During the course of conversation, Jarle indicated he was heading back to Norway for several months and asked if we'd like some of Berserk's freshies. Well, sure, we could always use a few extra spuds and onions. He brought two huge, heavy laundry baskets full of potatoes, onions and carrots. As David hoisted them onto the boat, I couldn't imagine where I'd stow them all. Sharing came to mind immediately. Would our cruising friends on Ave del Mar like some? How about the guys working on the dock; they'd probably like some fresh veggies? I went through them all and sorted them, disposing of the soft, squishy, wet ones (ick!). Potato eyes were scattered everywhere in the cockpit. I filled up Cups' hammock and hanging baskets, then took the rest and divided them into bags which we distributed to any willing boat or worker.
Now … what to do with all those potatoes. The damp ones were peeled and boiled immediately. Some cooked potatoes went into a big potato salad for dinner and the rest can be used for home fries with eggs in the morning. I figured we could have a cottage pie for dinner one night with a mashed potato topper and perhaps I'd make locro, a hardy, delicious potato soup we tasted first in the mountains of Ecuador. I might not use them all, but I'd certainly put a dent in the potato stores over the next week or so. The rest will serve us well on our upcoming sea passage once I figure out a place to stow them.
Then Jarle stopped by with a huge plastic trash bag full of tinned green peas. Hmmm … I'm going to have to give this one a bit more thought.
By the way, here's the recipe for Locro Ecuatoriano (aka Ecuadorian Potato Soup) ... just in case you ever end up with too many potatoes.
- 1 lb (500g) potatoes, peeled and finely diced
- 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
- 2 Tbsp (30ml) oil
- 1/4c (60g) chopped onion
- 3/4c (185ml) milk
- 1 tsp (5ml) salt
- 1c (250g) cheddar cheese, grated or thin-sliced
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced (as garnish)
- Lettuce leaves, washed and dried
- In a large saucepan, saute the finely diced potatoes with onion in oil, till onion is lightly browned. Add enough water to just cover the potatoes, then one cup more water. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir in the separate cubed potato. Reduce heat and simmer till the potato is tender and the diced potatoes are dissolved. Add milk and salt stirring in one direction until the locro almost boils. Remove from heat.
- In advance, line bowls with the lettuce leaves and then add cheese. Ladle the hot soup into the bowls and garnish with sliced avocado and more cheese if you like.
- Note: We rarely have fresh lettuce leaf aboard. Though it makes a lovely presentation and it's traditional, we find the soup tastes just fine without the lettuce. It would probably be good without the avocados, too, but we love avos so much, I don't make the soup unless I have them on hand.