What can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; is grown in all 50 states; and had a war named after it? The potato of course. (The 1778-79 War of the Bavarian Succession was nicknamed "The Potato War.") The Incas of Peru, who cultivated hundreds of ancient potato varieties in terraced highlands, measured units of time by how long it took a potato to cook.
This marvelous crop provides more calories per acre than any grain or vegetable. While potatoes can be grown in a dazzling array of shapes, colors, and sizes, these days most of us rely on the russet Burbank, the white Katahdin, and several red varieties. "Yukon Gold" is gaining favor rapidly, probably because its creamy yellow flesh gives the impression of having lots of butter when it’s served.
In Texas, red potatoes are the passion, fittingly planted on Valentine’s Day and harvested in May. That is, if the weather permits. This year a capricious heavy rain, combined with 80 degree temperatures, doomed my farm’s potato crop to a rotting morass. So I am somewhat forlornly sitting inside today writing about potatoes instead of digging them.
I admit I was really looking forward to "new potato" season. I had the menu all planned out—boiled potatoes with butter and parsley, cream of potato soup, leftover potatoes fried for breakfast, potato salad, and shepherd’s pie. And I wasn’t the only one. Our neighbors were over twice last week to see if the potatoes were dug yet. Elderly family members who used to have farms of their own have been reminiscing about past potato harvests and lamenting the fact that senior nutrition centers these days don’t serve enough potatoes.