50 Ways to prepare it and eat it!
Blurb: Culinary delights. Thatís what people say when they taste the many faces of the potato. Even Andrew Zimmern can enjoy the humble tuber!
The potato is the most wonderful food in the world. One of the great things about this fabulous tuber is how easily it adapts to other foods. This starchy delight is one of those unusual preparations having little of its own taste, yet merrily accepts the flavors of foods that are cooked with it. Did you know that there are as many as six basic forms of potatoes that are so totally different, they could be mistaken for other foods? We have the white potato, Long Island potato, Idaho potato, red potato, new potato and the sweet potato.
While the sweet potato is included in the list, our discussion will be restricted to white potatoes only since sweet potatoes possess dozens of their own, unique recipes. One of the intense pleasures of sweet potatoes is that they work well with sweet condiments, such as honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, coriander, allspice and cinnamon. White potatoes, on the other hand, are greatly enhanced by salt, pepper, sharp spices such as cumin, and even curry. Potatoes are equally at home with leafy herbs. From delicate flavors of French tarragon and thyme to the sweet fragrance of basil and cilantro the potato endures. Other herbs also challenge the palate of American cooking. Many New York chefs prefer the strong taste of rosemary needles for their aromatic flavor. Fried, broiled, boiled, baked or stewed, the potato always earns a special place on the American table.
Historically, potatoes were not always a western staple even though people have enjoyed their popularity for centuries. It wasn’t until the 20th century that farmers have given them the respect they deserve in the western world (Europe and North America).
A Brief History: High in the Andes, the pre-Columbian farmers of South America discovered the potato about 7,000 years ago. During the mid sixteenth century, Conquistadors encountered this wonderful tuber and introduced it to Europe around 1570. But the potato did not gain respect until well into the 18th century when the Royal Society recommended its cultivation in England. It took another 50 years before it caught on in Eastern Europe and it never caught on in Asia.
By the 19th century the potato earned its place in the kitchen of the modern western world. Since its introduction into the United States, “…it was not until the Russet Burbank potato was developed by the American horticulturist, Luther Burbank, in 1872 that the potato took off.” (Stradley, 2004.) Today, what meal is complete without a portion of potatoes in the plate?
Cultivation: Potatoes do not grow from seeds nor cuttings. They grow from the “eyes” of the potato. These are soft, white plant tissues that emerge from the tuber. When potatoes begin to grow eyes, they should be discarded as the eyes contain a toxin that renders them inedible.
Inspiration: the potato has even inspired a toy, Mr. Potato Head, which was popular in the 1950’s.
Nutrition: Recommended Daily Allowances: Vitamin C 45%, Thiamin 10%, Niacin 8%, Vitamin B6 14%, Folacin 14%, Panthothenic Acid 6%, Phosphorous 6%, Magnesium 12%, Iron 9%.
The Recipe List
(The French call
them pommes frites)
Potato stuffing (in veal)
Potato wine(Vodka Lite)
Grilled potato ratatouille salad
Garlic marinated potato spuds
Corn & potato pancakes
Rosemary sauté potatoes
Grilled new potato
packet (in aluminum foil)
Cold rosemary potato
Potato stuffing (in turkey)
Leak & potato soup
Sweet potato (Yam)
Stradley, L. 2004 History of Potato, Retrieved 12-04-08 from http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/PotatoHistory.htm)
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(Copyright © 2009 by D. Wayne Dworsky)