The Spud Diaries – Entry 15 – A Taste of ‘Straya

The Spud Diaries – Entry 15 – A Taste of ‘Straya


Opinion
AUSSIES: Australian representatives at the 10th World Potato Congress, Richard Okray, Alan Davenport, Nathan Richardson, Trevor Hall and Lee Shaw, all from Tasmania.

AUSSIES: Australian representatives at the 10th World Potato Congress, Richard Okray, Alan Davenport, Nathan Richardson, Trevor Hall and Lee Shaw, all from Tasmania.

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A bunch of Aussies attended the World Potato Congress to mix it with the best potato researchers in the world.

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DAY two of the World Potato Congress provides information overload.

There are discussions on genomics, through to irrigation, value adding, and then bigger issues such as the World Food Prize.

My computer is running hot with note taking.

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I meet a pack of Tasmanians who have made the long trek to brush up on all things potatoes.

They are a good mob and give details about their experiences and what they hope to get out of the conference, plus a few stories of their struggles with altitude sickness. 

It's good to see some Aussies mixing it with the best potato brains in the world.

The Potato Revolution Exhibition-Mash-Up

Apparently the Oceania region contributes only .5 per cent to the world's potato output but I like to think we punch above our weight in quality and production systems.

It is on this second day I meet Jeffrey Allan Price - the Potato Artist. He does a session in the afternoon speaking on his obsession with not only collecting artworks involving potatoes, but also creating potato-related artwork and launching his new podcast, The Potato Podcast.

As a New Yorker, it's no surprise he's engaging, fascinating and energetic.

As the last session of the day, it seems to take the room by surprise as they've been bombarded all day with statistics, research results and weighty issues.

GUEST SPEAKER: The Potatoist, Jeffrey Allen Price, who collects potato-influenced artworks while also producing potato-related content as well.

GUEST SPEAKER: The Potatoist, Jeffrey Allen Price, who collects potato-influenced artworks while also producing potato-related content as well.

But the audience soon warms to Jeffrey's wavelength and by the end, they are clamouring to get one of his "Think Potato" t-shirts, shake his hand and offer a suggestion of people to interview for his podcast. 

I personally think he should have been a keynote speaker on the opening day. It sure would have had people talking. 

I may just have to drop his name to Hort Connections organisers in the future. I'm sure he'd be up for a trip to Australia.

Being on an international work trip is all well and good but looming like a cloud on the horizon in my mind is the need to acquire some souvenirs for the patient family at home.

BIT BROKE: There's nothing cooler than a broken translation headset.

BIT BROKE: There's nothing cooler than a broken translation headset.

With this in mind, I dive into one of the hundreds of clothing and souvenir stores.

I am instantly greeted by "Elizabeth" who skips into the shop, asks where I'm from, and promptly gives me a hug.

She then pulls out a traditional chullo (Peruvian beanie with flaps) and poncho, perhaps hoping I'm about to drop a few thousand dollars.

Elizabeth follows me around the small shop encouraging me to do "more shopping, more shopping" but I settle on some items and make my way out, not before another hug, much thanking and plenty of last minute offers of things that I should also purchase.

DOLLED UP: A step inside a souvenir store became a dress-up party, courtesy of an over-enthusiastic sales assistant.

DOLLED UP: A step inside a souvenir store became a dress-up party, courtesy of an over-enthusiastic sales assistant.

I'm later told by never to pay pull price and always do some haggling.

I feel Elizabeth may have taken me for a ride, entrancing me with over-enthusiasm to prevent an awkward, inter-lingual negotiation process.

#TheSpudDiaries

  • Ashley Walmsley travelled to Peru with assistance from the Crawford Fund and with financial support from DFAT Council on Australia Latin America Relations.​ 
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