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Don’t Take the Spud for Granted. Celebrate National Potato Day!

Mister Potato Head would be so proud of me.  I am just sure of it!  We all eat potatoes on a regular basis, and this familiarity with the ubiquitous vegetable (actually, tuber is a more accurate term) might result in taking it for granted.  Call it what you wish – potato, taties, taters, spud, or patatas – the potato is one of the most important food items in the entire world.  What makes it rather interesting is that it also is one of the most versatile vegetables you can use in the kitchen! And today, August 19, we celebrate National Potato Day – an ode to the most loved tuber in the world.

Potatoes at the Supermarket

Potatoes at the Supermarket

Where was the first potato found?

History tells us that potatoes originate from south Peru. It was also there that this tuber was domesticated – cultivated for human consumption – some time between 8000 BC and 5000 BC. So yeah, the potato is one ancient tuber!

How did the potato find its way to the rest of the world? Via the European colonizers, of course! It is said that sailors returning to Spain from Peru brought along potatoes (along with maize, naturally) to use as food during the long journey home. The leftover tubers were then planted when they got home. And as the Spanish conquistadors sowed their seeds in other parts of the world, the potatoes came with them.

Today, we can find potatoes of all shapes, sizes, and other characteristics practically anywhere in the world.

Why potatoes are good for you and me

Potatoes are simple, but they contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that have excellent health benefits. Arguably, potatoes are known most for their carbohydrate content. This organic compound is essential for our bodies to produce energy. However, too much carbohydrate intake combined with too little physical activity will result in weight gain, as some of us know very well.

The good news is that potato also contains what is known as resistant starch. This kind of starch is not digested in the stomach and the small intestine, and thus serves as roughage in the large intestines. Basically, that means it can help with passing waste. Potatoes also contain other goodies such as Vitamin C, Thiamin, Niacin, Potassium, Copper, and Magnesium, among others.

Fun potato trivia

Now it’s time to have some fun with potatoes. How much of this information do you know?

  • The French once thought that potatoes were poisonous? Using a little trickery reverse psychology, 18th century agronomist Antoine-Auguste Parmentier convinced the locals to try potatoes. He did this by posting guards on the fields to lead the locals to believe that he was preventing them from stealing the tubers. At night, the guards were recalled, leaving the fields unguarded. The result? The locals stole the potatoes! Talk about the great human spirit.
  • Potatoes used to be worth their weight in gold – literally. During the Alaskan Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s, miners traded their gold stash for potatoes.
  • Believe it or not, the potato is a relative of tobacco and the tomato. Interesting…
  • China is the world’s largest producer of potatoes. Not surprising, as everything seems to come from China these days, huh?
  • In the US, potatoes is the most popular fresh vegetable – equaled only by lettuce.

What you can do with potatoes

For sure, your knowledge of potato recipes can fill up an entire recipe book. With the potato being a regular part of people’s diets, you would think that practically everything that can be done with potatoes has been done already. It is thus a self-imposed goal to find unique (or somewhat unique, at least) potato recipes that you can use for National Potato Day. Enjoy!

Potato Salad

Grilled Mustard Potato Salad

Grilled Mustard Potato Salad

Who doesn’t love a good potato salad? Seriously, I cannot think of a single person who would say that potato salad is disgusting.  Think about it – can you count people who dislike potato salad using all your fingers?  I highly doubt it.

There are so many variation of this dish, but here is one that I haven’t tried: Grilled Mustard Potato Salad. I think it’s a winner as you can’t really go wrong when it comes to the grill. The dijon mustard also gives it a nice touch.

Now if you don’t feel like using the grill for salad, here are other options for potato salad.

French Fries

Baked French Fries

Baked French Fries

French fries or Freedom fries – whatever you want to call these lovely fried potatoes, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that fries are the best comfort food ever! Fans of fried food will no doubt want their potatoes fried, but if you are avoiding the oil, then this Baked French Fries recipe is perfect for you. Even though they’re not deep fried, the result is still crispyliciously good!

We all crave crispy french fries every now and then. Okay, maybe more often for some. If you can’t have anything but really crispy fries, this Homemade Crispy Seasoned French Fries recipe is sure to make you happy.

If there is something better than crispy fries, it is Chili Cheese Fries! The mere thought of crispy fries drizzled with aromatic chili and melted cheese is enough to get me off this couch and go to the market to buy the ingredients for this recipe.

More recipes for fries that you will find hard to resist:

Baked or Mashed Potatoes

Baked Potatoes with Mince

Baked Potatoes with Mince

Baked or mashed – I think that’s how I like my potatoes best. There are a thousand and one ways to make baked and/or mashed potatoes, with every family perhaps having their own specialty. Here’s a really filling recipe for Baked Potatoes with Mince. You really don’t need much else on the table if you have this.

Why don’t we up the heat a little but by baking potatoes twice and adding some parmesan? This Creamy Parmesan Twice-Baked Potatoes is certain to become a favorite at any household. Now if that isn’t hot enough for you, then perhaps this Cowboy Mashed Potatoes will do the trick.

Oh, and believe it or not, baked potato in soup is a good idea. Why don’t you try this recipe for Baked Potato Soup?

Other potato recipes that will make everyone happy:

Potatoes at the supermarket image via Svadilfari

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