Potatoes: Apple of Our Eye

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Antoine-Augustin Parmentier probably celebrated with a big dinner at

Le Cirque when he landed the King Louis XVI account. Back in 1775

Parmentier was the innovative huckster behind the “Got

Potato?” campaign. When the Spanish conquistadores came back

from Peru with the potato it was treated with scorn and relegated to

livestock. But the Powers That Be saw a valuable market opportunity

for the potato to become an alternative to wheat. Wheat for making

bread had become a precarious vertical market, susceptible to price

fixing and famine. The Prussian King Frederick II ordered his

reluctant peasants to grow and eat potatoes—or have their noses

cut off. But it was savvy Parmentier's marketing ploy to have a field

planted with potatoes surrounded by guards that provoked interest in

the tuber. The guards had been authorized to let the peasants steal

the chic potato (which had been re-branded under the wonderful name

pomme de terre or “earth apple”). The French became the

early adopters and propagators of the delicious potato cuisine we now

love so well. Red Potatoes are firm, thin skinned, and hold up well

in many recipes. The thin skin means they don't need to be peeled so

you can eat consume their nutritional benefits—fiber, vitamins,

and anthocyanins. Anthocyanin is a red-pigment flavanoid in plants, a

powerful antioxidant associated with combating disease. If you do

decide to peel, cook the potato first, and then peel. The skin aids

retention of nutrients while cooking.

Many Red Potato recipes are attributed to a potato innovator, such as

“Potatoes O'Brien,” “Pommes Anna,” or

“Vichyssoise.” Any dish with the title

“Parmentier” contains potatoes. For chilly nights, try

Potage Parmentier, a pureed leek and potato soup. Good old Parmentier

experienced potatoes’ miraculous nutrition and life-affirming

values during a stretch in a Prussian prison during the Seven Years

War. We don't know how he liked them cooked, but he probably would

have liked them cut up into little sticks and fried... those would be

destined to become famous.

 

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