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Okay, Americans — please back me up here. There are three kinds of potato, no? New potatoes, red potatoes and Idaho bakers. (I mean, not counting those blue things that’re supposed to be Quetzalcoatl eggs or something). Amirite?

Well. No. Geez, you would not beLEEEVE the potato drama that goes on here.

It’s not just that they recognize dozens of breeds of potato, they actually sell them in the store that way. Potatoes with names like Lady Christl, Rocket, International Kidney, Pentland Javelin, Duke of York, Charlotte, Piccolo Star, Maris Piper and Maris Peer. Dozens more. Don’t make me go look it up.

Oh, but there’s also the time of year they’re up: first early, second early, maincrop and second cropping (this is special late potato, for Christmas). Which I guess is mostly for people who want to grow their own, but this data intersects variety.

Oh, plus the place they were grown. Kent. Prince Edward Island. People can tell the difference.

People. Not me. Mash them up with butter, salt and pepper and, honestly — what’s the diff? Food is just too damn complicated here.

Don’t even get me started on the twenty varieties of sugar!


Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: November 20, 2012, 11:11 pm

If I’m mashin’ ’em, or roastin’ ’em, I’m not too picky. But a baked potato, fries, & other uses like pizza topping: those require special rules as to crunchyness & fluffiness of the cooked product. Russets are the best for baking, & I’m very partial to Yukon Gold for fries. Red B-size sliced extra thin go on top of pizza (with a light sprinkle of olve oil).

I could eat 50 potatoes in an hour.

Comment from AliceH
Time: November 20, 2012, 11:22 pm

This from an artist who probably knows 800 different words to distinguish shades of “blue”.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: November 20, 2012, 11:28 pm

Nice fluffy white mashed potatoes or french fries…they can keep the rest. Here in Quebec, Canada…one of the few good things is the greasy french fries…they’re awesome.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: November 20, 2012, 11:51 pm

According to Alton Brown, potatoes can be divided up into STARCHY or WAXY potatoes. Starchy are good for frying, mashing and baking, and Waxy are good for soups and stews, for the most part.

Comment from scottthebadger
Time: November 21, 2012, 12:10 am

Fried taters! YUM! YUM! YUM! Baked taers slathered in butter, ( Wisconsin Butter! ) YUM! YUM! YUM! Mashed taters, with gravey, or even with just butter! YUM! YUM! YUM! And salt, leave us not forget the salt!

Comment from m
Time: November 21, 2012, 12:19 am

There are also varieties grown for the chip market(crisps). They don’t get sold retail often.
You forgot the basic round white potato.

Comment from JeffS
Time: November 21, 2012, 12:26 am

If taters are so popular in England, does every home have one of these handy?


Comment from Armybrat
Time: November 21, 2012, 12:32 am

Please….I’ve eaten English food. And the best part of English food is the potatoes…..because everything else is just dead meat in brown sauce. And if potatoes was the best part of my meal, you’d be damn certain I’d have preferences.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: November 21, 2012, 12:37 am

Oh, Lord, Jeffs! That was the sort of present some demented Aunt always gave us for Christmas when we were kids. I realise, now, she was at her wit’s end, poor soul. At the time I’d just write her off as a thoughtless old bat, who had NO IDEA that what every kid wanted was MORE TOY SOLDIERS!

As for the badadas issue, walking round the supermarket with The Weasel is… an education.

“What do you mean there are only three types of sugar! Have you never baked a fruit ca…. oh.”

Comment from Dustoffmom
Time: November 21, 2012, 12:41 am

Puts my dear hubby in mind……trying to figure out what to cook one day I asked what he wanted, he replied ‘meat and potatoes’. Being a smart ass I asked “baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, escalloped potatoes, fried potatoes?” He very blandly replies ‘potatoes in my mouth please’. And I agree….red, new, Idaho…that’s all one will ever need in life. 🙂

Comment from Elphaba
Time: November 21, 2012, 1:01 am

Here you go…the Potato Song: http://youtu.be/HJaKqOzDvMQ

Comment from Oldcat
Time: November 21, 2012, 1:15 am

This from an artist who probably knows 800 different words to distinguish shades of “blue”.

— only 800? Our graphic designer would call things ‘Pantone 1184’ or some such.

Comment from Deborah
Time: November 21, 2012, 1:24 am

I sorta fall into the red, russet, white wax camp. One of my favorite dishes as a youngster was slowly stewed white wax potatoes (so it made a thick sauce) with a dash of cream and lots of butter.

Are sweet potatoes popular in the U.K.? Husband despises them, but I love them baked, with some butter and brown sugar.

Comment from kilroy182
Time: November 21, 2012, 1:39 am

Could it be they are overcompensating for that whole ‘potato famine’ thing a few years back? Now they like to make sure there are alot of varieties on hand?

Comment from Nina
Time: November 21, 2012, 1:40 am

Potatoes. Hard to screw ’em up.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: November 21, 2012, 1:40 am

Hell, my local nursery sells blue potato starters each spring. They’re a Colorado specialty…

Comment from AliceH
Time: November 21, 2012, 1:55 am

I’m on a low-carb-in-solidarity diet with my friend who is on a low-carb-because-weight-and-diabetes diet. Potatoes, alas, are verboten. And good bread. And scones. And rice and pasta. It’s been… a challenge.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: November 21, 2012, 1:58 am

Sweas. Get a grip. There are people who can tell what grapes a wine was made from, and what year it was vinted. Most of us can tell the difference between white and red, and may be able to distinguish some varieties within each of the major categories. And can tell fortified wines from regular wines without much difficulty. Poitatoes (and sugars) are the same. Yes, there’s a difference. There really is. No, it’s not important to 95+% of the population of any country including (I’m willing to bet) the UK. The stores market for the plus-or-minus 5% to whom the difference is either a) actually discernible or b)important despite being indiscernible. Always fun to buy different stuff and see how it works out. You MIGHT discover that early Kent waxy beebaws are the best ever for some particular favorite dish.

And, well. Apples.

From the denizen of apple-growing country, who can actually tell the difference between at least a dozen varieties.

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: November 21, 2012, 2:01 am

When did Mr Potatohead get pants?

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: November 21, 2012, 2:02 am

I suspect it comes from the same situation which caused the Eskimos to have 100 words for ‘snow’. When that’s all ya got, you start noticing differences that others wouldn’t see.

Another example is that to a Frog’s some people’s tongue, there’s a difference between Brie and Camembert.

However, don’t ever let anybody tell you that ‘Bourbon is Bourbon is Bourbon’ cause that just ain’t so.

Comment from JeffS
Time: November 21, 2012, 2:07 am

UB, you were raised properly. The ONLY thing a REAL kid wants is MORE TOY SOLDIERS!!!


Comment from Tim
Time: November 21, 2012, 2:22 am

I do believe that the Irish Potato Famine was caused by everyone having the same kind of potato and they had a weather situation that turned everyone’s potato’s to inedibles.

They had all of their potatoes in one basket.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: November 21, 2012, 2:31 am

Tim knows of what he speaks. Monoculture was the curse of the Irish potato. I had Mono in college it was terrible.

Now if the Irish had had more immigration from Peru, the whole potato famine thing wouldn’t have happened.Your Peruvian, he knows his potatoes from his potatoes


Comment from EZnSF
Time: November 21, 2012, 3:09 am

AliceH etal- I’m also on the low-carb-new-age-ancestral diet. (and it works) I read somewhere a couple years ago that potatoes would actually be banned in the EU if they were introduced today. Something to do with the toxins when the skin goes ‘green’ and the EU food police.

Dame Stoat is right. Three basic kinds. The rest are nouveau headache heirlooms. Although Yukon Golds could substitute for pure butter.

And there is nothing better than (low carb) Sweet Potato hash browns. Sweet Potatoes. Not the orangey red things. The pale yellowish ones next to em in the bins.

Happy Thanksgiving all! And a special pumpkin pie smoosh to Wheez and Badger. Thanks for letting me/us play in your sandbox. You’re a tether to a wonky world. Peace to all.

Comment from Oceania
Time: November 21, 2012, 7:39 am


Comment from naleta
Time: November 21, 2012, 7:56 am

I am also on the low-carb, high-protein, let-the-fats-fall-where-they-may diet. I’ve plateaued after losing 10 pounds almost instantly, but my blood sugars have been near normal, and they were starting to trend upward.

Low-carb, Primal Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving dessert.

Comment from Mike C.
Time: November 21, 2012, 8:10 am

Now wait a minute, Stotie. How many different chicken varieties can you name? Most people know one – chicken. Or at best, two – big chicken, little chicken.

Oceania – Old geologist’s saying – don’t live on/near an active volcano. The same goes for major active fault zones, flood plains (there’s a reason they’re called that, you know) or sand bars (in the US, see Galveston Island or the Outer Banks.) Living below sea level on a hurricane-prone coast is also considered a bit of a bummer (much of New Orleans.) Standing in a well-known part of a city (Jackson Square) watching ocean-going freighters pass by well above you gives me the willies, frankly.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: November 21, 2012, 9:35 am

Don’t the Eskimos have something like fifty different words for ice? Old, new, borrowed, blue … creamy, crunchy …yellow? Jeez! I call it sensory starvation, y’know. All that endless white surrounding them…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 21, 2012, 10:51 am

I’ve never been served sweet potatoes here, Deborah, but all the stores sell them, so somebody has to be eating them. I buy one occasionally and mash it up with butter and brown sugar. I bought one for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Apples. The apple festivals here have upwards of 200 varieties sometimes. Real apple growing country, especially next door in Kent.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: November 21, 2012, 12:11 pm

Some Vegetable: That’s pretty much an outmoded/exploded theory: http://www.uaf.edu/anlc/snow/

Comment from Becca
Time: November 21, 2012, 2:25 pm

I think I remember reading a book by linguist John McWhorter in which he stated the Eskimo “100-words-for-snow” is a myth.

I’ll have to look that up.

Comment from thefritz
Time: November 21, 2012, 2:51 pm

shoot, from the pic I’d thought you’d found a meteorite in the back yard….Happy Thanksgiving!

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: November 21, 2012, 3:19 pm

The Eskimo don’t have a hundred words for snow? Damn!. I unlearn something every day.

Comment from AliceH
Time: November 21, 2012, 4:32 pm

naleta – thanks for the pumpkin pie recipe link!

Here’s the one I’ve made before – It’s slightly lower carb, and I think much easier: Low carb Praline pumpkin pie

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: November 21, 2012, 5:41 pm

You forgot Yukon gold. (Which I will be mashing tomorrow.)

It’s like how the Eskimos have all those words for snow. When all you’ve got to eat is potatoes, you try to act like they’re special.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: November 21, 2012, 9:43 pm

I worked in a chip shop in between school and university (dreadful job, worst ever). The variety of potatoes makes a huge difference. Maris Pipers are best, but King Edwards will do in a pinch. Fir Apples are good too, but well-nigh impossible to find in the UK. You want a potato that is mid-way between floury and waxy*. Rule of thumb: everything is more complicated than at first sight, and that includes spuds.

* ideally cooked in beef tallow, and don’t forget to blanch in cool (140°C) oil and allow to stand before the final cook-off in hot (190°C) oil.

Comment from Mojo
Time: November 21, 2012, 11:12 pm

…mash ’em, bake ’em, stick ‘me inna stew…

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: November 21, 2012, 11:17 pm

Some Vegetable: Nature abhors a vacuum, so fill up the space quick, with this new bit of knowledge (which had its origin in the debunking of the “words for snow” meme), the lovely neologism “snowclone,” explained here: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000350.html

Comment from Sigivald
Time: November 21, 2012, 11:54 pm

Yeah. There are also, as Mr. Mulroy said, Gold potatoes.

Named varietals can, as we say, suck it.

(The so-called sweet potato, while delicious, is not actually a potato. Damn it.

And tea is an infusion of the tea plant…)

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: November 23, 2012, 5:45 pm

Ditto on Yukon Gold as a major variety in ‘merica.

Comment from Ken
Time: November 23, 2012, 6:05 pm

Another vote for Yukon Gold here.

Comment from Patrick
Time: May 22, 2013, 2:53 pm

I’m late to church and could even be in the wrong pew, but I saw so many comments about the potato. For centuries, we Jamaicans, quite brainwashed by the mother country, Great Britain (when it was great), and equally miseducated, mostly voted for one potato, which we called Irish potato. It took me too many years to find out that the potato originated in Peru.

Check out the truth here: The 3,800 different varieties of potatoes: http://www.limaeasy.com/peruvian-food-guide/typical-potatoes

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