Originally written on August 19, 2021, updated 2023
National Potato Day is today, August 19, so if you like spuds, this one’s for you!
A bag of chips, french fries, baked potatoes and mashed potatoes are just some of the delicious things you can make with potatoes, little tubers that have played an important role in the history of the world and was even the primary food crop for an entire nation.
Potato Day celebrates the tuber and all the things you can use it for.
What’s your favorite potato treat?
Potatoes were first cultivated by man in Southern Peru and the Northwest regions of Bolivia sometime between 5000 and 8000 BC.
From that point forward it has spread all over the globe to become one of the primary staple crops of many cultures.
They are even used to make bread, rolls, and pancakes, and as such can be found in every meal of the day.
For a time, Ireland was so reliant on the potato as a food crop that a potato plague managed to starve the entire country.
The Russians, on the other hand, discovered quite a different use for the potato. Are you a fan of vodka? Real Russian Vodka is actually a distillation of potato, and the name vodka means “Little Water”, a clear indicator of its importance in Russia.
Today, the humble potato is the fifth most crop worldwide, coming in after wheat, corn, rice, and sugar cane.
Interestingly, it was something of a curiosity in Europe at the start of the 18th century: merchants had only just begun bringing it from South America and experimenting with it as a type of food. And most people, including Irish, had never seen anything like it before.
The potato, however, soon became very popular.
The way the plant grows makes it inherently more productive than grains – the crop that historically provided the vast bulk of the average person’s calories. Grass crops tend to become tall and fall over when the berries on top get too heavy. Potatoes, though carry on growing, regardless of the size and shape of the plant on top.
So long as the plant collects sun rays, it has sufficient energy to produce the starches that make up the tuber’s internal structure.
It is no wonder, therefore, that Potato Day has become popular, too, as the humble crop has been providing populations with a stable source of calories for centuries. It started its journey in South America and then made its way to Europe, following the discovery of the New World.
The potato is so nutritious that people can live off it for months at a time without having to supplement their diet with any other foods. What’s more, it is cheap and tasty, forming a vital constituent of many of the world’s favorite foods.
Potato Day is best celebrated by incorporating the tuber into every dish you prepare, as the versatile spud can be enjoyed in some way for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a snack, eaten raw, cooked, boiled, baked, mashed or fried.
Enjoy also something like a bag of potato chips, a baked potato, or mashed potatoes with garlic, onion, and cheddar cheese mixed in.
However, fellow potato lovers are becoming more inventive with their recipes, like sweetened potato desserts or mashed potato truffles with only four ingredients: leftover potatoes mash, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, and a coating, like cocoa or desiccated coconut, and that’s it!
Finally, you can do your bit to tell people about the historical significance of the potato and the role it played in feeding multiple civilizations, not just in Ireland. Of course, quoting our article….
Today’s Chuckle: “Farmer have a heard time keeping secrets on the farm. That’s because the corn has ears, the potatoes have eyes, and the beans stalk.” Author Unknown
Images from web – Google Research