TEACHER NOTES & ACTIVITIES
Just about every population, somewhere throughout history, has featured the potato within its culture. Traditional potato dishes have emerged from all around the globe…
Whether it’s gnocchi from Italy, potato kugel from Israel, colcannon from Ireland, papas rellena from Peru, patatokeftedes from Greece, aligot from France, potatoes Gujarati-style from India or potato kutleti from Russia - all of these great dishes form part of each country’s heritage.
The potato has made an impressive and extensive mark on world history. Its roles span years and continents - providing ‘famine insurance’ and sustaining populations through historical trying times, from South America to Africa to Russia and beyond. The potato was also integral to worldwide early trade. Its popularity soared when America’s President Thomas Jefferson served French Fries in the White House, having brought the recipe back with him from Europe - who could have predicted that this was the beginning of the world phenomenon of hot chips? And on what’s known as the “world’s most remote islands”, Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean, the potato was used as currency into the mid-1900s (four potatoes = one pence). More recently, NASA has developed technology that has enabled potatoes to become the first vegetable grown in space.
Closer to home, Abel Tasman brought cultivars to Aotearoa, as did Captain Cook and American whalers. The Maori and early settlers quickly learnt how to grow them. When the Great Potato Famine struck Ireland in the 1840s the Irish fled to many parts of the world, including New Zealand. The Irish immigrants’ potato-loving legacy is still apparent here today, with 97 per cent of New Zealanders eating potatoes - now that’s potato passion!
• detailed history - origins of the potato
• detailed history - how the potato has moved around the globe
• download Mr Potato Diary - colour / black only