The good old potato



Peruvians and Bolivians would never have imagined that the simple tuber they were used to eat on a daily basis could radically transform the Old World’s diet. Spanish conquerors brought the potato to Europe in the second half of the 16th century and due to this mere fact, the European 19th century population boom happened to be. Discussions about the issue of nourishment were a 'hot potato' amongst scientists and ordinary people to such extent that around 1845, a British activist group so-called ‘The Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet’ tried to keep ‘the bastard potatoes’ out of Britain, as they were considered unhealthy and poisonous. 


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Since then, the potato has been granted a lot of different nicknames as well as being seasoned in endless ways. Referring to names, a good example is ‘spud’, whose root can be traced back to the 16th century, associated with the dagger used for digging it up. Another one is ‘Murphy’, because this Irish surname was ‘as common as potatoes’ around 1811. In Southern United States and Northern Englandit can be also called as ‘Taters’.

As cooked breakfast in Northern Ireland and Scotland you may have ‘potato bread’ or ‘tatty scone’ made with flour and cooked potatoes. For lunch you can feast on ‘chips’ or ‘French fries’, which are batons of deep-fried potato, or savour ‘hash browns’, pan-fried pieces that can be shredded, diced or riced. If you don’t fancy much grease, you should relish the ‘jacket potato’ or ‘mashed potatoes’. It’s very likely that a meat-and-potatoes person will indulge in this high-carbohydrate and glycemic vegetable.

Nowadays, the increase of obesity is claimed to be due to crisps intake, and the amount of money dedicated to run weightloss campaigns is considered to be 'small potatoes' compared to high blood pressure schemes. Some nutritionists are also blaming the invention of television sets and the rise of ‘couch potatoes’ especially amongst middle-aged people, who spend hours on end in a vegetative state in front of their 'silly boxes'.

Well, let’s drop this complex subject like a 'hot potato' and finish off my article, because I don’t want to become a ‘mouse potato’, squandering my precious time looking on the internet for synonyms, idioms and side-splitting ways of describing this plant.

© Plataforma creada por Alfonso Hinojosa - Profesor de Inglés de la E.O.I. de Santander