Culinary Sleuth

by Lynn Kerrigan


Hurray for Potatoes


Hurray for Potatoes  
I can't think of any food that's more neglected, maligned or mistreated than the potato. Of humble beginnings, potatoes have always have kept company with the poor.

The ubiquitous spud is found everywhere and perhaps that's the reason most people fail to hold it in high regard. But think a moment where we'd be without potatoes.

For sure, there'd be many mourning the loss of their beloved potato chip. A good beef stew would be naked without potatoes. The hearty breakfast would lose its heart without hashed browns and a summer picnic sans potato salad is no picnic. And I can't imagine a Thanksgiving meal without a big bowl of everyone's favorite comfort food — fluffy, buttered mashed spuds.

Potatoes hold an important place in history. The lack of potatoes caused over a million deaths during the Irish potato famine. Ireland was so dependent on potatoes for nourishment that when blight destroyed the crops in 1845 and 1846, tragedy struck. Besides the many deaths, another million fled Ireland to find food.

Famous for their versatility, potatoes may be baked, boiled, fried, microwaved and served hot or cold. One potato provides half the daily need for vitamin C, 750 mg potassium and only a small amount of calories: 110 per medium sized potato.

You can easily turn breakfast from ho-hum to fabulous using the recipes below. Neither is difficult nor overly time consuming.


Potato Potpourri

  • The potato is the second most consumed food in the U.S.
  • The Incas of Peru invented many uses for potatoes. They used them to measure time, correlating units of time by how long it took potatoes to cook. They placed raw slices on broken bones, carried them to prevent rheumatism, and ate them with other foods to prevent indigestion.
  • The word "spud" is related to the tool used for digging potatoes from the ground—the SPADE!
  • In Europe, the potato had a difficult time being accepted. The potato, a member of the nightshade family, was considered by many to be poisonous or evil.
  • The average American eats 120 pounds of potatoes a year.
  • During the 18th century, potatoes were served as a dessert, hot and salted, in a napkin
  • According to the Idaho Potato Commission, you should NEVER bake potatoes in aluminum foil, as the foil seals in moisture making the texture pasty instead of fluffy.
  • The majority of a potato's minerals are in the cortex, the narrow layer right below the skin.

Visit All About Potatoes featuring dozens of potato recipes


Current Culinary Sleuth Archive

This page created March 2000

Copyright © 1998-2001, Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.

This page modified February 2007

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