Europe | Potatoes
It is easy to halve the potato where there is love.Irish saying
Potatoes are the world's fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat and maize. They are generally grown from the eyes of another potato and not from seed, and correct potato husbandry is an arduous task. The potato's yield of calories per acre is higher than that of maize, rice, wheat or soybean.
Potatoes are prepared in many ways. The only requirement involves cooking to break down the starch. Common dishes are mashed, baked, boiled, steamed, roasted or french-fried potatoes; potato pancakes or dumplings made from grated potatoes. Potato chunks commonly appear as a stew ingredient.
Originating in Peru, the potato was introduced to Europe in 1536 and, although initially feared to be poisonous, it soon became an important food staple. Famines in the early 1770s contributed to acceptance, as did government policies in several European countries and climate change during the Little Ice Age.
When Catherine the Great of Russia ordered her subjects to cultivate the tuber, the Orthodox Church warned that potatoes were suspect because they were not in the Bible, and many ignored her order.
Lack of genetic diversity left potatoes vulnerable to disease and in 1845, a plant disease known as late blight resulted in the crop failures that led to the Great Irish Famine.
The potato remains an essential crop especially in eastern and central Europe where per capita production is still the highest in the world.