Food’s stories: the potato

 

Potatoes, native to South America, are today one of the most widespread and popular foods in the world. So many recipes come to our minds! Potato gnocchi, baked potatoes, potato croquettes, French fries…

There are also many interesting stories about potatoes. Here is one.

In the Sixteenth century the Spanish conquistadors brought back the potato plant from South America, which immediately became the object of study by botanists not only because it was easy to grow but also since it survived different climates and soils.

Yet, this plant struggled to establish itself as food: in fact, potatoes contain a substance called solanine, which is potentially toxic! Those who tried to eat raw potatoes, badly preserved, rotten, already sprouted, or still green ones, got sick!

Even today we know that we should not eat or cook unripe potatoes or either the ones from which a new plant has already been ticked.

This tuber which we can now consider as a versatile dish on European tables, owns its fame to a chef from 1800 who we would call “starred chef” today. His name was Antonin Carême and he invented the croquettes.