The great potato

Whether you bake, boil, fry, saute, puree, or otherwise cook the potato, here is some information that you might not know about this starchy tuber that we love to make into french fries and potato chips.

The potato’s beginnings: The potato originated in Peru in the High Andes, and was not only a staple food for the Incans, but served medicinally as well. The varieties we know today can be traced to the Country of Chili, but all DNA testing shows proof of an origination in Peru. It is said to have been cultivated as far back as 4,000-10,000 years ago.

The potato was brought back to Europe in the mid-1500’s by the Spanish Conquistadors. First thought to be poisonous, and possibly dangerous, it took some time for the people of Europe to embrace this starchy, staple food. Some cooks, not knowing that you are supposed to serve the tubers, mistakenly served the poisonous leaves to Royalty and made them violently ill. Thus the potato was banned for some time in England.

Many people I talk to still believe that the potato is from Ireland, since it grows so well in that environment. The fact is that it took quite a few years to adapt the potato from a short growing day in the Peruvian mountains, to the longer summer days of Europe. The great Irish Famine in 1845 was caused by something called the late blight that infected the potato crops that the farmers depended on for food.

The Culinary history of the potato is fascinating, and was brought into popularity by a French Man named Antoine-Augustine Parmentier, during the late 1700’s.

Potato chipsToday, we can’t think of eating a hamburger without french fries, or a sandwich without potato chips. Just think what would happen to all those fast food chains if something were to happen to the world-wide potato crop!

Some people think what is the point of a potato without cream and butter, and all those non-vegan things to make them yummy? Well, here’s my vegan whipped potato recipe. The greatest thing is without all the butter and cream, it lowers the calories so it is almost guilt-free. Try them with Portabello Steaks and steamed veggies.

And here’s some interesting potato links:

The History of the french fry

All about potatoes