Saturday, January 24, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly: Revolution

The Challenge:  17. Revolutionary Food January 11 - January 24
The theme is revolution, and it’s all about ch-ch-ch-changes. Food can be inspired by revolution, can showcase a revolutionary technique, or come from a revolutionary time. Give us your best documented interpretation of revolution.

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible)
Boiled Potato

The Date/Year and Region:
1604/ France - However, similar recipes appear in late 16th C England as well

How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation)
I boiled a potato.  :-)   Okay, so the entire story is that I was originally going to make a different potato recipe from the late 16th/early 17th c, but thanks to a very bad bartender who used corn syrup lemon flavoring in my lemon drop martini the other night, I'm sick.  So, I stuck to simple and boiled a potato, peeled it, stuck a slab of vegan "butter" on it, and some pepper.

Time to Complete:
40 minutes because the stupid pot of water would not boil!

Total Cost:
umm...Less than $1?  It was one very large potato from a sack of potatoes.

How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?)  It was a potato.  It was yummy.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here)
Okay, so, they didn't differentiate between sweet potatoes and white potatoes until the mid 18th C.  So, there were a couple of recipes that clearly called for sweet potatoes (because nutmeg with a white potato would be wrong) and many other, like this one, that went either way.  By the mid 16th C, the Spanish had brought both the sweet potato and the white potato back to the Old World.  I went with a redskin potato because it's what I had on hand that I knew wouldn't upset my tummy further.

As to why the potato is so revolutionary...

Basically, could anyone in the Western world imagine not eating a potato during the course of a week? Between the common side of fries, mashed potatoes, or just some sort of potato salad, potato is a staple crop in the Western world. I've even seen Asian restaurants with fries on the menu. Potatoes are everywhere.

Given that the potato has become part of the Western diet - let's not forget the great Potato Famine in Ireland- a few centuries ago, it's hard to imagine a time without it. Or, a time when they were figuring out how the heck to eat it. The 16th C/early 17th C was a time were the potato was a curiosity and something not part of the normal menu. (Can you imagine having fish without the chips?) The introduction of the potato to the European diet revolutionized foodways and what we eat.


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