February 24th, 2018
So, hands up who loves potatoes? Oooooo, that’s ours up right there and no messing; we love them. Absolutely love them; in any form and any variety. Mashed, roasted, baked, new, sweet or baby. Yes please. But, this isn’t a very cool statement in the carb-cutting culture we now live in. Over the last decade or two, potatoes have gone from being staple British fodder to terrifying fat-inducing diet enemy.
But, I don’t think that should be the case. Yes, potatoes are a source of carbohydrate, and when laden with oil, butter, cream or cheese (as they so often are) then they can spell diet disaster. But, potatoes have been providing essential nutrients and carbohydrates to generations of Great British people for centuries, and most of the nation’s favourite dishes revolve around the humble spud. A roast dinner would be disastrous without roasties; a Lancashire hotpot would be a luke-warm-pot without its delicious potato topping and just imagine how dull and lonely the bangers would be without the mash.
We’re so proud of the potato in Britain that you think we’d invented the things. But, the history of the potato in Britain is relatively new, and they had to travel a fair distance to get to us. They originated in the Andean mountains of South America; a perfect staple crop for the cold temperatures and high altitudes because of their tough, hardy nature. Spanish explorers brought them over to Europe in the early 16th century, although it wasn’t until the mid 18th century that their popularity really grew. Many people were suspicious of them at first, mainly because they weren’t mentioned in the Bible. One old wives tale even claimed that eating potatoes caused leprosy!
In Britain it’s easy to get hold of potatoes at any time of year, because they store incredibly well. The potato season kicks off in April, when the first batch of new potatoes come tumbling from the fields and onto plates. Of course, Jersey Royals are the most famous, and perhaps the most delicious new potatoes, but don’t forget varieties like the Charlotte and the Vales Emerald – all perfect for early spring potato salads. These delicious little summer potatoes are grown until the beginning of autumn, then in October the harvest of the larger, wintery varieties begins.
Despite their reputation, potatoes are actually really, really good for us and are packed with vitamins and nutrients. They are one of the best forms of low fat carbohydrate and high fibre food out there. They are also an excellent source of vitamins C and B6, potassium (which we need for cell and muscle functions) and copper (to help us absorb iron). Potatoes are also a great source of the sought after phytonutrients. These do not give the same nutritional value as say vitamins, but they have been found to offer protection from illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease. Over 60 different phytonutrients have been found in the flesh and skins of common potato varieties – that’s as many as are in broccoli, a well known “super-food”.
So, if ever you needed an excuse to tuck in, there you have it. Potatoes are officially fab! So why not pop in and see us this weekend at the Oakeley and tuck into some of our famous chips, or delicious creamy mash. YUM!
Did you know…..that a “spud” was the name given to the small spade that was used to dig up potatoes?