Potatoes are the most widely cultivated crop and hence staple food after wheat, corn and rice, with guess what? China leading the world! But it was not always so, indigenous to Peru and Chile there are now thousands of varieties, brought to Europe only about four hundred years ago.
Not sure who brought them to England, but I suspect either Sir Walter Raleigh or Sir Francis Drake along with tobacco, in the time of Queen Elizabeth I.
It is our intention, as you may know by now, to return to the County of my birth from which both Walter and Francis came: Devon in the West Country of England.
Good on you lads! Little did you know what you were bringing home!
I wonder when it was found that green potatoes, allowed to see the sun in the growing season, were poisonous to humans. Not that remarkable being a member of the Solanum family of the deadly Nightshade group! It is still desirable to store potatoes away from the light in a cool dark place at home though.
But just a thought: if you are short of space you can grow them safely in a tall black plastic dustbin. Wonderful to have your own home grown new potatoes with lashings of local butter or made into potato salad with homemade mayonnaise and fresh chopped parsley from the herb garden. I like it with an extra splash of strong flavoured olive oil. I think I have become more Spanish than the Spanish!
To be fair that little piece of history and cuisine is by the by since my main concern is the way that many countries in the world are experiencing a strain on their health services due to the ever expanding number of cases of obesity.
Since before the potato was found to be so desirable when we were still the hunter gatherers we had to be able to distinguish which were the good things to eat just like knowing that the green potatoes were poisonous to us.
What did also matter was being able to tell which of the many fruits available growing wild would be ready to eat and not give us a guts ache. Not that we knew it at the time, but the gut is the centre of our immune system, and not the thymus which I was taught many moons ago as being the throne of immunity. Since proved to be romantic tosh since the thymus can be any size in any person at any time in their life!
The ability to accept the sweet fruit was part of our software which has undoubtedly become hard wired into our consciousness and we still crave the ripe sweet things. And you wondered why the big food corps are making so much money out of growing and making such things as corn syrup, plus a multitude of addictive chemicals which fool our taste buds into thinking they like the stuff.
Well, because just about every man made food, including junk food is laced with these nasty things, it’s why we have a weight problem! Plus of course our consequent overindulgence and that goes for good food too!
There is a old law that should be written into our constitutions, literally, that we should all learn the basics of food at school, that what might seem harmless and healthy turns to sugar in our bodies which gives us the problem, and it’s not just the sweet things nowadays. And if you take actual sugar it’s down to you my friends!
Trouble is that along with the potato, as I say, came tobacco! It was assumed that just as the Indigenous Americans do, we would treat it as an offering food fit for the gods. But now we have over indulged and it has become a social problem.
Along with salt, sugar and alcohol which make such good preservatives we’ve abused the products and indulged ourselves in the lot giving us heart problems and multiple health conditions to cope with. In short we have pickled ourselves!
Will we ever learn?
I wonder when the general consensus will realise that cannabis is a natural medicinal product when used wisely and not to be smoked?
It seems that the sensible idea that we should eat to live rather than to fill our bellies has been lost on the way. You never saw pictures of any of the survivors of Auschwitz being overweight, but there must be that happy medium somewhere which invites common sense and the utilisation of our inner wisdom to give us what our bodies need and not what our eyes tell us we want! Are we so greedy?
On a lighter note I have to say that I love potatoes in every mode and don’t you just love Fried Green Tomatoes, the food and the film? The Spanish have tomatoes of all colours and especially the green ones, almost black, which they use in salads, the usual starter in any restaurant with crisp lettuce, grated carrot, onion, olives, sweet corn and anything else in the larder at the time! Or alioli (garlic mayonnaise) with spicy pureed tomato which you spread on hot toast yourself.
I think that the Mediterranean Diet is a bit of a fabrication since when you go to a restaurant here in Spain they never cook vegetables even though they are on sale in the markets, most of the locals get fat and their staple food seems to be fresh white baguettes and the baker even calls round in his van to our neighbours out here in the Campo every day! I have to say they are poison to me.
Unless we are prepared to take a personal stand we can easily fall into the trap that has ensnared populations across the globe. It is a well known fallacy that our beliefs are fixed, which is not the case at all since we can change any old belief that does not suit us Now!
Apart from our sweet tooth which we are led to believe veers towards the dry sherry and dryer wines in general as we age and become more sophisticated, I can tell you it does not pertain to all people. What is true though is that, just like my beautiful totem the bear we tend to gorge because we are still hard wired to the impression that there may not be any food tomorrow so we’d better take in all we can while the glut is good! But for the gut it’s bad.
It is of course the old feeling of delayed lack because you never know what tomorrow will bring! Fear of a dearth is one thing, but fear not my friends we will have enough to stay alive if not enough to fill our bellies to bursting and suffer the consequences of obesity!
Try giving up a whole meal occasionally, unannounced and as a surprise to your body. It really works wonders if you want to lose weight! Delayed gratification is a personal present from you to you! Go for it. It’s great!
With Love and be healthy, from an ex-chef and genuine foodie, Hanukah & the Angel