The Daily Spud

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Spud Sunday: The Day Of The Spud

Bag of potatoes

National Potato Day: Spuds finally get their day in the sun

By the time it got to Thursday, there was a definite buzz developing around the whole National Potato Day thing.

A simple idea, the brainchild of North Dublin family growers Keogh’s Potatoes, it was prompted by the continuing slide, in recent years, in the sales of fresh potatoes in this country. According to Tom Keogh, those sales have fallen by up to half since 2002 – a shocking statistic, I know.

Still, though we may not be buying them as much as we used to, the concept of National Potato Day connected with the corner of our psyche that acknowledges spuds as part and parcel of the Irish condition. The idea gathered quite a bit of momentum in the run up to the day itself, with coverage both in the national press and on national radio. Over on Newstalk, radio host George Hook revealed himself to be an ardent spud fan and can be seen below leading the charge for what he later called “one of the great foods” (and no, I couldn’t exactly disagree with him on that one).

Meanwhile, over on Twitter, the great and the good were pondering how to mark the occasion.

eatlikeagirl tweet

And, of course, folks were wondering about my own Chief Spud Ambassadorship

Donal Skehan Tweet

In the end, there was neither sash nor baton, but I did score an ‘I love spuds’ t-shirt, just like the ones sported by the potato sack racers below, along with as many chips as I could eat (which, it must be said, is quite a lot).

spud lovers

As seen in the Irish Independent on Friday

Chips

Chips for me and, um, more chips for me

national potato day

Free chips, free spuds and an assortment of potato-themed games:
wasn't entirely sure I approved of the potato throwing event, but the kids seemed to enjoy it no end

And what, you might wonder, did I really make of it all?

To re-purpose a much derided election slogan, there’s “a lot done, more to do”. The National Potato Day that we saw this week showed that the Irish affection for the spud persists, but…

…will we buy and eat more spuds as a result?

Perhaps some of us will – and perhaps it will take products like Keogh’s Easy Cook steam-in-the-bag potatoes to convince the convenience food generation to give real spuds another try. Regardless, we need to keep getting the message out about the wonders of the versatile potato every other day of the year too. And when National Potato Day rolls around again next year, as it inevitably will, please let’s put more than just chips on the menu.

While we’re on the subject…

If you listened to George Hook’s little rant above, you’ll gather that he reckons we don’t know how to cook potatoes anymore.

Well, if that’s the case (and for some, it likely is) I guess he could send people my way or perhaps send them to Donnybrook Fair which, I was interested to discover, is holding a half-day potato cookery course on September 12th. The course promises to “unlock the mysteries surrounding the wide variety of potatoes available” so, if potatoes are a thing of mystery to you, then you’d best be getting yourself along there.

13 Comments

  1. I’m not sure a day is enough time to celebrate the potato – how about National Potato Week? And let’s not restrict it to Ireland – International Potato Week!

  2. Daily Spud

    Sunday, August 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I like how you’re thinking Aine, I like it a lot :)

  3. Spuds are amazing. Even better when you can get a great meal in a restaurant where the spuds are cooked to perfection!!

    Loving potato rosti lately…

  4. As a big spud fan , Keoghs annoy the bejaysus out of me. I ended up complainig in Superquinn recently as they had a big sign up saying Keoghs were Irish spuds when in fact they were from Israel and France. Very sneaky.

  5. Daily Spud

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Restaurant Deals: so, do you have any personal suggestions for restaurants that cook spuds to perfection? always curious!

    Cacamilis: oh dear, that does seem a bit sneaky, doesn’t it? don’t know what percentage of the potatoes that Keoghs sell are non-Irish (and presumably it happens moreso in early summer before the Irish new season crops are available) but I’d be curious

  6. Is the problem there not with Superquinn misrepresenting the potatoes as Irish rather than Keoghs themselves?

  7. Daily Spud

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Good point Stef and maybe it’s a bit of both – to be fair, I’d need to see the advertising in question and how many of the potatoes were Irish-grown versus not. The other point, of course, is that we have gotten used to being able to get spuds such as those early baby potatoes at times of the year when they are not yet ready for harvest here (and Keogh’s are, no doubt, responding to that demand). As consumers, and if we want to buy Irish-grown crops, then there is an onus on us to respect seasonality and accept that we can’t always have what we want when we want it.

  8. Yeah, I think they’re perfectly entitled to sell non-Irish potatoes because as you say consumers expect to be able to buy potatoes year round and that’s not possible using only Irish produce; of course, it would be gret if everyone ate seasonally but Keogh’s are a business not and advocacy group and they have to give the market what it wants. If you go onto their site, the boxes of Irish potatoes are clearly marked as so and have the Bord Bia Quality Assurance mark on them whereas the non-Irish potatoes don’t so I think it’s pretty easy to see which is which. It’s a bit unfair to suggest they’re being duplicitous if that’s what the OP is suggesting, although maybe I’ve just misunderstood what they were saying.

  9. They are perfectly entitled to sell potatoes from any country , I agree. I just think that the packaging would lead people to believe that they were buying Irish spuds .
    I complained to Superquinn at the beginning of the Summer when there were pleny of spuds about both Irish and foreign.
    Superquinn were adding to the notion that the Keoghs spuds were Irish and were happy to take the sign down. They had no Irish potatoes for sale apart from potatoes packed by Keoghs which was also shocking.
    Not the end of the world or anything but it really annoys me when I can’t find the most basic Irish produce in Irish shops without having to go to a farmers market [which are of course fab but usually on at weekend].
    End of minor rant.

  10. Sales down by half?! That’s just craziness! What is going on over there?! I’m also inclined to agree w/Aine up there at the top–that there should be an International Potato Week. I’d be all over that one!

  11. Daily Spud

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Stef, Cacamilis: I think Cacamilis has gotten to the real heart of the problem there which is the frustration at not being able to find basic Irish produce in shops – frustrates me no end too and no harm in ranting about it at all!

    Jenni: it is crazy, it’s like we grew up and moved away from our home town and now spuds just aren’t fancy enough or somethin’

  12. Hey what about chips for me? I could boost they sales back to ’02 levels I bet. GREG

  13. Good thinking Greg, I’ll bet you could!

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