The Daily Spud

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Spud Sunday: Humbled By Spuds

New Potatoes

If spuds could speak, what would they say?

Would they surprise (most of) us and paraphrase Muhammad Ali thus: “It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as we are.” Swap the boxing ring for the vegetable box and potatoes – like Ali – might just be greatest thing you could hope to find there. Really. A heavyweight amongst food crops, the potato is the world’s most widely grown vegetable; it has been a feeder of nations – not least our own – and is a champion performer in the kitchen, where (if you’re anything like me) you may find it hard but to admire its great range of culinary moves.

And yet humble is the word we most often reach for when we feel the need to attach an adjective to the potato. It’s not that it’s entirely inaccurate as descriptions go – potatoes, with their unshowy, clay-covered appearance, have, throughout their history, often been viewed as a lowly food of the poor – but the fact is that there are a great many other ways in which to characterise our national tuber.

I’ll grant that banning the use of the word ‘humble’ in reference to potatoes might be somewhat extreme (not to mention impossible), but descriptors like mighty, noble, beautiful even – these we might well add to the humble mix, as indeed the new Boxty House logo suggests.

boxty house logo humble spud

And nowhere will you find greater eloquence in describing matters of the potato than in the work of the poet Seamus Heaney, who passed away earlier this week. He had an immense talent for elevating the ordinary with his words, and poems such as ‘At a Potato Digging‘ are ones by which both we – and spuds – are truly humbled.

6 Comments

  1. Ive always lectured against the word Humble it should be the NOBLE Spud as it is the greatest food source there is

  2. Daily Spud

    Monday, September 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    I know you have Dave! Have heard you speak many times on exactly this topic and it goes without saying that I couldn’t agree more.

  3. I suppose it depends on your tone when speaking of the spud, when one is so great any adjective will come up short. The spud, like most meals, transform the nature of the word humble to a higher station. One speaks of the humble spud like one speaks of the humble Mother Teresa, The Humble Ghandi, The Humble Reagan. __“Be careful not to mistake insecurity and inadequacy for humility! Humility has nothing to do with the insecure and inadequate! Just like arrogance has nothing to do with greatness!”__
    ― C. JoyBell C.
    So in their simple way all are humbled by the spud.
    Cheers,
    Brian.

  4. Daily Spud

    Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Ah, indeed so Brian, it does all depend on how we define our terms and humility is not to be knocked.

  5. I could not agree more. I have always loved the potato and my interest only increased when I started growing them in my own garden (especially a blue variety). I like humbling. They are really quite incredible.

  6. Daily Spud

    Monday, September 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I know what you mean Lori – I think that knowing what it is to grow and eat your own potatoes only helps to appreciate them more.

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