Every year, and at about this time, the little flower heads on my modest backyard crop of potatoes slowly open to the world. It’s a sight that never fails to delight, with different varieties putting forth delicate blossoms of blue or purple or pink or white.
I often think it small wonder that, for a time in late 18th century Paris, following royal example, potato flowers were much in demand. Referring to the occasion, in 1785, when that French champion of the potato, Antoine August Parmentier, obtained a royal seal of approval for the potato, John Reader, in his book Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent writes:
“It was 23 August, the king’s birthday. Accounts differ as to exactly what happened, but an engaging summary declares that Louis and his wife Marie Antoinette were so enchanted when Parmentier presented them with a bouquet of potato flowers that the king pinned a spray of the blooms to his lapel and his consort put a garland in her hair. Potatoes were on the menu too, and this was enough to inspire a degree of emulatory haste among the king’s guests. Lords and ladies of the court began serving potatoes – some even had potato flowers painted on their best china and society florists were able to charge outrageous prices for potato flowers.”
Alas, the days when one could charge a fortune for potato flowers are long past (and with it, my plans for amassing a fortune by that route – seems I shall have to make my spudzillions elsewhere). Nevertheless, there is a pleasure in the annual arrival of these tiny blooms that money can’t buy, bringing with them, as they do, their own charm and the glorious promise of potatoes to come.
In Other News…
While I might spend this time of year preoccupied by potato flowers, there are plenty of other ways in which you might get cheerfully distracted foodwise. Here are just a few.
Good Food At The Races
If you’re heading to the Irish Derby Festival at The Curragh, which takes place from Friday June 29th to Sunday July 1st, there’ll be some good food to be had, as well as good racing. The Good Food Ireland village at the festival will offer a whole range of foods to taste or buy from approved food producers, from farmhouse cheese and smoked salmon platters to handmade sausages, Wexford strawberries and cream, as well as a range of micro-brews. So pack your saddle bags and get on down there.
On The Tapas Trail
Last year’s highly successful Campo Viejo Tapas Trail makes a return to Dublin’s city centre this week. Each Wednesday and Sunday from June 27th to August 19th, guests can join the trail, visiting four restaurants – including Salamanca, Salamanca Fusion, Havana Tapas Bar and the Market Bar – where, in each restaurant, they will be presented with the venue’s best three tapas and enjoy a measure of Campo Viejo Reserva, all for the modest price tag of €20.
Bangladeshi Food and Beer
For a touch of something more exotic, you might want to head to Fuchsia House in Ardee in Co. Louth on Thursday, July 12th, when chef/owner Sarajit Chanda (who is also behind the Aruna range of sauces) will introduce guests to a range of street foods from his native Bangladesh, while restaurant critic Tom Doorley will be on hand to match the food up with ales, lagers and ciders from Irish craft breweries. Tickets for the event are €50 and booking is essential – phone (041) 6858432 or see www.fuchsiahouse.ie.
Ice Cream To Your Door
The Ben & Jerry’s Core Tour will be hot (or, rather, cold) footing it around Ireland from June 29th to July 6th, dishing out free tubs of ice cream. The tour, which marks the launch of their fully fairtrade Core flavour range, will take in Dublin, Kilkenny, Cork, Clare, Galway and Mayo, but they are also inviting Irish fans to request a visit to their community, workplace or home with their Core Tour app. Enter details into the app and you might find the Core at your door.