Who knew that a tuber that is not very pretty but can easily be transformed into something elegant, that we call potato or apple of the earth would become what it is today, the versatility of it is alomost unsurpassed . We consume it almost every day in some shape or form and why not it is delicious. It is used for breakfast ,lunch and dinner and late night suppers. It is used in almost every cuisine across the globe. They come in as many colors as the rainbow and in just as many varieties…around 5000 known varieties worldwide and about 200 wild …just potatoes. The research that has been made on the worlds fourth most grown crop is just simply staggering and it has shown that the humble tuber originated in Peru /Bolivia and the Andes. Humans have cultivated it for thousands of years. As humans ,when we stopped hunting and gathering and we settled down and started growing our crops and of course started fermenting the tubers and thats how vodka came along and aquavit and so on . I like potato vodka,always have ,with its nice and smooth pleasant burn..
The potatoes versatility is simply staggering in the professional kitchen. In Europe it is a part of almost every meal,boiled ,fried,pressed,baked,roasted,steamed,shredded ,sliced ,diced ,in soups both hot and cold ,in dressings ,in salads both hot and cold and cut into as many shapes as there are varieties . I could go on but would run into the risk of sounding like bubba grump counting off all the ways to cook shrimp in “Forrest Gump”. Potatoes are served morning noon and night as well as overnight. They are everywhere on a menu as apps entrees and desserts.I my self is very partial to boiled potatoes with my meal and making my own mashed potato on the plate with my fork to make sure I get everything of the plate to savor every last bit of my meal, in southern Europe they use the bread in the same way..to me it is just not the same.Nah give me some potatoes instead.
I love the very first crop of new potatoes that come along in the spring ,nice little sweet jewels of the earth that is gently scrubbed to get rid of the dirt then boiled in salted water with some fresh dill..the true smell of summer for me. I like to eat the little spring spuddies with some sour cream ,red onions and baltic pickled herring. That is a very scandinavian way of eating them by the way. I also love a good simple Niceoise salad with cold boiled potatoes and fresh green beans and boiled eggs. I could go on and on about what I like with my potatoes but that would be another bubba Gump count off …love the guy and the movie however..
In this day and age we are very fortunate to have almost all varieties available to us at any time of the year and to be able to learn from using them and to share that knowledge with our guests and fellow cooks and chefs both old and young….So next time you are in a nice restaurant and looking at the menu you will probably not find a lengthy description of the potato and variety used simply because we all think a potato is a potato is a potato. The sad part about that is that it is true. We are so accustomed to have “just “french fries and we don’t really care what variety it is ,the research has already been done into finding and sometimes genetically modify it to become the the best french fry with the proper “snap” when we eat it at the restaurant..kinda sad really. If our customers only knew….but then again I don’t think most of the guests would care for what variety of potato it is but if it is genetically modified and has been treated with pesticides and that’s important and a good start if any ,to know more about the spud.
I my self have always liked the fingerling varieties and the purple peruvian and the kennebeck and bintje and russet and king edward and red pontiac and superior and bamberg and amandine and potato potato potato. All it takes is a little bit of research and knowhow and your respect for the humble tuber will change and it will become a challenge to find the best variety…now to educate our customers..without sounding like Bubba Gump thats a challenge in it self.