Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Celebrate the Apples of the Earth

From The Record-Eagle:
The Irish may have laid claim to the spud, but potatoes originated in the New World. Peruvians were the first to discover the satisfying flavor and versatility of potatoes and to cultivate them from wild, marble-sized spuds. Peruvians prized potatoes for almost two millennia before the Spanish exported them to the Old World.

It wasn’t love at first sight for Europeans and potatoes … they were much maligned as a poisonous nightshade. With the help of potato champions like botanist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, who in 1785 persuaded Louis XVI, King of France, to encourage cultivation of them, potatoes began to infiltrate European kitchens. 
Parmentier played a trick on villagers: He planted 100 acres outside Paris and had troops guard the field. Parmentier allowed curiosity about this “valuable” plant to grow until finally he sent the guards off duty. The local farmers sneaked into the field, stole potatoes and planted them on their own farms. 
The type of spud and where and how it grows matters. Present-day potatoes, mixed with the diverse, wild and ancient South American gene pool, come in a luxury of hues, textures, flavors and shapes. Potato-smart cooks choose local over industrial spuds. Explore farmer’s markets for organically grown blue-fleshed Purple Peruvian and All Blue, rosy-fleshed Red Thumb, the dense yellow-fleshed Yellow Finn and Yukon Gold and the sweet fingerlings like the popular Russian Banana and pink-skinned French Fingerling. (Read more.)

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