A Potato by Any Other Name

Before I discovered potatoes had proper names and real character traits like the Amorosa that ended up in a cake all because of certain fleshy attributes, the full extent of my knowledge about potato varieties ran from Jerseys, King Edwards, Whites to a Maris Piper. A potato was a potato and a boring, tasteless one at that unless it was a Jersey.

Now organic potatoes arrive in brown paper bags clearly labelled as to what’s inside and where they come from and then I find out from the Riverford newsletter that there’s a reason why a particular variety is available at certain times of the year and how best to cook it. And then I discover that I can taste the difference between my Cosmos and my Amorosa, organic of course. The potato is my new best friend. RESPECT!

When I told Jim, my neighbour I was chitting potatoes to grow in my garden, he gave me a pat on the shoulder and a big smile. Welcome to the club, he said. To date, I’ve been given a dozen dwarf broad bean plants and lent two books.

Jim said he’d never heard of the Amorosa and we didn’t find it in his book, Potato but we did find the other variety I’m growing: Red Duke of York from the Netherlands originally, born 1842 and quite rare. Apparently not unlike the Amorosa in appearance, also from the Netherlands (now growing in Hampshire and perhaps in my garden too if the specimens from my veg box are successful) but a relative newcomer: long, oval very red skin with light tasty yellow flesh. I shall compare and contrast in due course.

Last word: There are 36 pages of named potatoes from around the world in the Potato book, starting with Ajax and ending with Yukon Gold. In the middle of all that is the Red Pontiac. If you can name a nail polish Black Cherry Chutney, there’s no good reason not to name a potato after a car.


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