Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a French army physician, was kidnapped by Prussian forces amid the Seven Years War throughout the mid-1700s. He was compelled to survive on potato supplies as a captive.
This would have been considered harsh and extraordinary punishment in mid-eighteenth-century France, since potatoes were considered cattle fodder and were supposed to induce leprosy in people. The dread was so pervasive that in 1748, the French issued a law prohibiting them.
Potatoes, on the other hand, were not lethal, as Parmentier learned in jail. They were, in fact, rather excellent. Following his liberation at the conclusion of the war, this pharmacist started preaching to his fellow citizens more about tuber’s benefits.
He accomplished this in a variety of ways, such as displaying all of the excellent ways it might be prepared, featuring mashed potatoes. France had abolished the potato prohibition by 1772. Hundreds of years later, mashed potatoes may be found in places spanning from ready meals to fine restaurants in scores of nations.
The Origins of the Potato
Even though European countries produce the major bulk of global potato production these days, any of the European country’s claim about potatoes being native to them is probably false. Even for Ireland. Majority of the research suggests that they had been most probably cultivated in Peru’s Andes highlands and northern Bolivia, where they would be utilised for survival as early as 8,000 BCE.
Those early potatoes looked nothing like the potato we have nowadays. They appeared in a range of shapes and forms, with a bitter flavour that no quantity of heating could mask.
Early Mashed Potato Recipes
A few potato supporters, particularly Parmentier, were successful in changing the potato’s image. Hannah Glasse directed users to boil potatoes, skin them, place them in a pan, and mush them thoroughly with milk, cream, and a pinch of salt in her eighteenth century recipe book The Art of Cookery. In her book The Virginia Housewife, Mary Randolph offered a method for preparing mashed potatoes that required for half an ounce of cream or butter and a teaspoon of milk per each pound of potatoes used .
Ireland, on the other hand, was the first nation to adopt the potato. The nutrient-dense, durable cuisine seemed to be suited for the island’s severe winters. And, since the vital component grows below, it had a greater likelihood of enduring military activities, battles among England and Ireland probably expedited its adaption there. Irish people also enjoyed mashed potatoes, which they served with greens or spinach in a meal called colcannon. Potatoes became more than simply a staple dish in Ireland; they were an integral component of the Irish culture.
However, the miraculous crop has a serious flaw: it’s sensitive to disease, especially potato late blight, or Phytophtora infestans. People had lost their businesses and so many communities lost their principal food supply when the microbe entered Ireland in the 1840s.
The Irish Potato Famine claimed the lives of a million people, or one-eighth of the populace. The British administration, on the other hand, provided little assistance to its Irish nationals.
The Potato Famine had an unintended consequence: a surge in agricultural science. On a humane and academic basis, Charles Darwin grew fascinated by the subject of potato plant disease, and he even actively supported a potato reproducing effort in Ireland. His was among the several only projects.
European agronomists were finally able to create strong, robust potato varieties and recover the crop’s quantities utilizing potatoes which had escaped the disease and fresh South American genetics. This inspired additional plant genetics study, and it was part of a larger scientific trend that also featured Gregor Mendel’s seminal study with backyard peas.