Monday, October 16, 2006

Some Potato Trivia

A quick Google search yielded some interesting facts about potatoes:

Peru's Inca Indians were the first to cultivate potatoes around 200 B.C. The potatoes they grew ranged in size from a small nut to an apple, and in colors from red and gold to blue and black. The Incas also used potatoes to measure time - correlating units of time by how long it took potatoes to cook.

The Spanish conquistadors discovered the potato in 1537 in the Andean village of Sorocota. They took potatoes with them on their return trip to Europe, where it had a difficult time being accepted. The potato, a member of the nightshade family, was considered by many to be poisonous or evil. With the help of Prussia's King Frederick William, France's Antoine-August Parmentier, and England's Sir Walter Raleigh - who introduced the potato to Ireland, the potato was soon popularized throughout Europe.

The first potatoes arrived in North America in 1621 when Captain Nathaniel Butler, then Governor of Bermuda, sent two large cedar chests containing potatoes and other vegetables to Francis Wyatt, Governor of Virginia at Jamestown.

It reputedly took seven transatlantic crossings before the potato gained acceptance in America. In fact, the potato did not really become popular until discovered by Benjamin Franklin. While ambassador to France, he attended a banquet hosted by Parmentier at which the potato was served 20 different ways. Franklin returned to America singing the praises of the potato as the ultimate vegetable. Americans followed the lead of trendsetting Franklin, and soon the potato was being cultivated in the colonies and in remote regions of the western frontier.

French fries were introduced to Americans when President Thomas Jefferson served them at the White House.

Potato chips were invented by mistake. The year was 1853, and Railroad Magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt was dining at a fashionable resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. He sent his fried potatoes back to the kitchen complaining they were too thick. To spite his haughty guest, Chef George Crum sliced some potatoes paper thin, fried them in hot oil, and salted them. To everyone's surprise, Vanderbilt loved his "Saratoga Crunch Chips", and potato chips have been popular ever since.

The largest potato grown was 18 pounds and 4 ounces according to the Guinness Book of World Records. It was grown in England in 1795.

A potato is about 80% water and 20% solid.

The average American eats 132.7 pounds of potatoes a year, or over 365 potatoes per person per year - that's an average of more than one potato a day. Germans eat more than 200 pounds per year.

Potatoes are a powerful aphrodisiac, says a physician in Ireland.

The potato is the second most consumed food in the United States - trailing only after milk products.

Contrary to a common misconception, potatoes are not high in calories. One medium sized potato contains 110 calories, while a one-cup serving of rice has 225 calories, and a cup of pasta has 155 calories.

Potatoes are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. One medium sized potato has fewer calories than a grapefruit, more potassium than a banana, and more usable iron than any other vegetable. Potatoes are also high in fiber, and loaded with complex carbohydrates. And best of all, potatoes are fat-free.


"And best of all, potatoes are fat-free"--hmmm. . .not the way I fix them!

You can read more potato trivia here and here.

This is my "one potato, two potato, three potato, FOUR(th) entry in Rebecca's Potato Fest 2006. Will there be five potato, six potato, seven potato MORE entries? Stay tuned and see.

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