Thursday, June 5, 2008

The ubiquitous potato

The year 2008 has been declared the International Year of the Potato by the UN. On googling the tuber I find extensive research and number of books - one of them titled the History and Social Role of the Potato!!.

I have never been a fond of the potato unless it is in its unhealty avatar like the potato chip or the french fries. The tuber is generally thrown into the shopping cart as a standby item when nothing else is available and is useful when you have guests dropping by.

There is a Potato Council, a Potato museum, a Potato magazine - The Spudsman. WOW. That speaks a lot for a food that was discovered just 400 years ago.

An interesting story of how a french farmer decided to popularise it in his area. Parmentier acquired a miserable and unproductive spot of ground on the outskirts of Paris. There, he planted 50 acres of potatoes. During the day, he set a guard over it. This drew considerable attention in the neighborhood. In the evening the guard was relaxed and the locals came to see what all the fuss was about. Believing this plant must be valuable, many peasants "acquired" some of the potatoes from the plot, and soon were growing the root in their own garden plots

It is time that I treat the potato with a lot more respect.

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