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Potato from A to Z: 26 Things You Didn't Know About Potatoes

Potato from A to Z: 26 Things You Didn't Know About Potatoes

All about potatoes: from where they were first grown, to the most prized variety, their history, recipes and many more oddities

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During the era of the conquering of the Americas, the potato was the principal food of the indigenous Andes people, who also worshiped them. The potatoes would freeze in the cold nights, then get dried in the sun and then conserved in powder: this was called chuño.  

The Bonnotte potato is the world's most expensive potato variety: a rare species of tuber, cultivated exclusively on the French island of Noirmoutier and harvested rigorously by hand, during just 10 days of the year. They cost around £400/kilo.

Chiloé Archipelago
While many experts claim that the potato originated from the island of Chiloé, in Southern Chile, it hasn’t yet been verified whether the potato first appeared in the Andean or Chilean region.

The European Cultivated Potato Database (ECPD) is an online database that classifies a wide variety of potatoes. It’s constantly updated from the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency.

As perhaps you remember from elementary school science class, a potato can generate electricity. Many American toy stores carry the "Two-potato clocks", a kit that includes a potato into which two electrodes have been inserted.

Friedrich Engels
The Marxist Friedrich Engels declared that the potato should be considered just as important as iron in terms of its historical importance. Without this low-cost food, he claimed, the Industrial Revolution never would have happened, as the workers in Northern England wouldn’t have had the necessary calories (and therefore, energy) to work.

The country holds first place in Europe for potato production, and its become the German national food.

Hachis Parmentier
The Hachis Parmentier is a French, potato-based dish that owes its name to Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, an agronomist and nutritionist who, in the 18th Century, deemed the potato edible in France.

Inca Empire
After the Spanish conquered the Incan empire, they introduced potato cultivation in Europe in the second half of the 16th Century.

John Gerard
The first English description of the potato appeared in 1597 in “The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes” by the botanist John Gerard.

Knodels, large potato dumplings, are now known as a typical dish popular in Southern Germany, Austria, Czecoslovakisa, Poland, and the South Tyrol.

A variant of “Boxty” (a traditional Irish pancake), which is very popular in Lancashire and especially Liverpool, is made from mashed potatoes.

Marie Antoinette
King Louis XVI made the potato into a delicacy often served in court, while Queen Marie Antoinette began decorating her hairpieces and gowns with potato blossoms.

New England
In New England, “smashed potatoes” are very popular variant on mashed potatoes, in which the skins are left on.

In October 2011, the U.S. Senate blocked the President’s proposed law to limit the consumption of potatoes in schools.

Poutine is a Canadian dish of French fries and fresh cheese curds with salsa.

The Quechua people are famous for chuño, the powder obtained from potatoes that have been frozen and then dried in the sun.

A typical part of Swiss cuisine, Rösti is a potato-based dish that originated with the farmers from the Berna canton, who ate it for breakfast. It is now often served as a side dish.

Solanum tuberosum
The scientific Latin name for the potato is “Solanum tuberosum”.

Tattie scones
Also called “potato scones”, Tattie scones are a variation of the savoury griddle scones that are very popular in Scotland and the Isle of Mann. The base ingredient is boiled potato.

Potato juice neutralizes gastric fluids, which is why it’s recommended for those suffering from ulcers and gastritis.

Potatoes are a source of important vitamins and minerals. A medium-sized potato (150g), eaten with the skin, provides 27 mg of vitamin C (45% of the daily recommended dose), 620 mg of potassium (18% of the daily recommended dose), 0,2 mg of vitamin B5 (10% of the daily recommended dose), along with traces of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.

Potato waffles are a very popular version of the traditional waffle, and very popular in the U.K. and Ireland.

The potato’s X Virus (PVX) provokes a slight patchwork effect in the tubers, with fewer leaves, crumpling at the edges, necrotic spotting and deterioration of vegetation near the soil.

Potatoes and yogurt are two great ingredients for a light side dish, or a homemade anti-ageing facial mask.

The British supermarket chain Tesco makes Zoo Potatoes, which are animal-shaped French fries.

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