There are certain things that are guaranteed to brighten up this blogger’s inbox and, this week, the honours in that particular department went to a press release announcing the return of Keogh’s National Potato Day.
What’s that you say? Spuds in the news again? Yes indeed, the fact that we Irish are eating less of them seems to be a topic that we simply – and somewhat ironically – cannot get enough of.
This time, it was the turn of the Irish Times magazine, with potatoes front and centre in yesterday’s Paddy’s Day edition. In the magazine, Róisín Ingle got to grips with the realities of potato consumption in modern Ireland, mainly by way of an interview with Tom Keogh of Keogh’s Potatoes but, wise lady that she clearly is, she solicited my opinion too (you can read the full article at your leisure over here). The magazine also included the word on chips from Kevin Thornton and a slew of fine looking potato recipes from Domini Kemp, Kevin Dundon and Sunil Ghai, among others. Plenty to keep a spud lover engaged and happy over the national holiday, then.
Pity the poor potato. Considered by some, these days, to be an inconvenient choice for dinner because you have to, y’know, peel them and they take longer to cook than your average packet of pasta or rice. Shocking though it seems to me, it appears that the slow and lumbering spud is no match for the likes of speedy spaghetti in the modern-day clash of the carbs. While I might rail against the reductive attitude to food and cooking that is implied by such thinking, I am not, I expect, going to effect any great sweeping changes in societal behaviour by doing so (well, not yet anyway). Meanwhile, it remains a very real challenge for those who grow and sell potatoes to address.
Keogh’s of North County Dublin have, for example, been tackling the issue with their ‘Easy Cook’ line of steam-in-the-bag microwaveable potatoes (though I still admit that when I first saw them, I was, in my own potato purist way, given to muttering: ‘but aren’t potatoes easy to cook anyway?’). As reported in my Sunday Times piece a few weeks back, Keogh’s Easy Cook spuds are proving a popular option for shoppers, and others in the potato industry here are getting in on the act too. Sam Dennigan’s have recently launched ‘Spuddies’ – their version of the 7-minute bag of microwaveable baby potatoes – and Sam Dennigan Jr. himself called to deliver some samples to me recently.