Given the image above, I may as well get straight to the point: National Potato Day is, once again, on its way.
Started as an initiative by Keogh’s, it’s two years since the inaugural National Potato Day took place and this year, for the first time, it will run with the support of Bord Bia (which, I suppose you could say, makes it official). That, in turn, means that we can expect more in the way of events in the run up to the day itself, Friday August 23rd, and greater media coverage; details of happenings will appear on the potato.ie site from this coming Monday, July 29th, with a number of events announced already, including the plan by Sam’s Potatoes to make an attempt on the record for the largest ever potato sack race at the Tullamore Show on August 11th and a 5K fun run hosted by the Meade Potato Company on National Potato Day itself.
Running and sack racing aside, I chatted to Lorcan Bourke of Bord Bia about their aims for National Potato Day. It was a conversation that had a familiar ring: counteract the perception that carbs are bad; highlight the neat nutritional package that is the potato; broaden people’s perspectives on how a potato can be prepared; bring some colour to the potato palette (***) – in other words, the kind of thing I do on a regular basis. So, with that in mind and anticipating the event to come, here’s a little colour from the warmth of the Canary Islands, where they’ve got salt and spice and aren’t afraid to use ’em.
*** This is a rare bird – a sentence where you could probably get away with using palette, palate or even, at a stretch, pallet
(for those who like to think of their potatoes in bulk terms)
See, the thing is that Europeans were generally suspicious of spuds in the early years after their arrival from the New World and, however hard it may be for me to imagine, a great many people were loathe to eat them. They were rumoured, among many other things, to be a cause of leprosy, which would, you’d have to admit, be a bit of a turnoff.
Frederick the Great: a great man for the spuds
(image © akg-images from www.germany.info)
The tubers had their champions though, and motivated by a disastrous failure of crops in the late 18th Century, King Frederick The Great of Prussia, who had quite rightly figured that potatoes would be a rather excellent way of feeding the poor, is reported to have issued what has been called “The Brandenburg Potato Paper” in 1770. This was an edict which gave peasant farmers a choice between planting potatoes and having their ears and noses cut off (which, one would think, was a bit of a no-brainer). Within a few years, and after sustained official pressure (which may or may not have involved relieving the peasantry of certain extremities), potatoes became a Prussian dietary staple, even to the point where, less than ten years after the edict, the Bavarian War of Succession (1778-9) became known as the Potato War, because the Prussian and Austrian armies involved spent a great deal of their time foraging for food and digging up the local potato crop.
If winning a case of wine and/or scoring tickets to Taste of Dublin are of interest to you, then you’ll want to stick around until (or just skip straight to) the end of this post. That’s all I’m sayin’…
Yes, we have gotten to that time of year where I think my calendar might actually burst. There are a multitude of things going on in June, each one tastier than the next.
In just a few days time, from Thursday June 2nd to Monday June 6th, the Phoenix Park in Dublin sees the return of the Bord Bia sponsored food and garden festival that is Bloom in the Park. I’ll be going along, which, if last year and the year before are anything to go by, should be a most enjoyable day out.
On Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons throughout June, the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail will bring groups to five tapas venues around Dublin including Bar Pinxto, The Port House, Salamanca Dame Street, Salamanca St Andrews Street and Havana Tapas Bar. Participants will enjoy tapas and some Campo Viejo rioja at each venue and will, no doubt be quite happy by the end of proceedings. Tickets are €20 each and you can get more details and book tickets here.
On the tapas trail: patatas bravas