Oh the excitement!
The day which would see the eagerly anticipated unearthing of the first new spuds was finally here. Visions of tuberous bounty filled my head, as I grabbed the garden fork and gloves and sallied forth to the vegetable patch. Mentally, I had already applied steam, butter and salt to the first of many straight-from-the-garden spud dinners. Happy days.
I tackled one of the outer drills, where I had planted a new-to-me spud, Colleen, and which had been the first of the varieties planted to burst forth into flower. The foliage throughout the patch was lush, green and healthy-looking. The first few tentative probes with the fork yielded nothing and then, working the soil a little closer to the stalk, a yellowy tuber appeared.
Ah, there you are young spud, now, come to Momma...
We had lift-off. One potato, two potato, three potato…
So did ya, then? Did ya get some heart-shaped potatoes from your valentine?
I jest not. Last week’s Sunday Mirror reported that these heart-shaped roasting potatoes from France, known as Francelines, were being carried in the UK by Tescos for this years Valentine’s market. They have only become available for sale there following the scrapping of an EU ruling which had banned the sale of mis-shapen fruit and vegetables. Thus, these heart-shaped taters are no longer to be hidden away and treated as the hunchbacks of the vegetable world, but, rather, will be made available for the delectation of the wider EU populace.
[image from http://www.mirror.co.uk]
I appreciate the potato only as a protection against famine, except for that, I know of nothing more eminently tasteless.
From The Physiology of Taste (1825) by Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Perhaps the author’s experience was based on potatoes such as Lumpers, a variety grown in Ireland in the early 1800s. A piece in this weeks Daily Telegraph quotes Alan Romans, author of The Potato Book, who describes Lumpers as “A nasty, wet potato but with a huge yield … No one would eat it today. It gives a real insight into how desperate and determined the Irish were to survive.” And so we were, clearly!
Searching for potatoes (Lumpers, no doubt) during famine times in Ireland - Illustrated London News, circa 1849
[image from Vassar College Views of the Famine