1. The potatoes are from South America. Many people mistakenly consider Ireland as their birthplace. Cultivated from a wild plant in a region covering northwestern Bolivia and southern Peru. They were brought to Europe by the Spanish conquistadors at the end of the 16th century.
2. Potatoes began their European career with a false start – the first few hundred people who ate them died suddenly. The reason was that the aristocratic sailors who brought the potatoes from South America did not think to explain to the villagers that it was not the leaves and stems that were eaten – but the roots and tubers. As for the leaves and stems, they are really poisonous.
3. People have been growing potatoes for about 7,000 years. Even at times, the Indians worshiped them as if they were deities, and considered them to be animate beings.
4. There are about 4,000 varieties of potatoes. Different potatoes are suitable for different dishes. The reason is that the different varieties have different starch content. Potatoes with a higher saturation of starch are better for baking or frying. Those with low levels of starch do not boil – which makes them more suitable for salads, soups and stews.
5. Potatoes belong to the same family as tobacco. It turns out that the potato family (Solanaceae) is quite extensive and includes many plants – tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, tatula, petunia, tobacco.
6. Green potatoes should not be eaten. When the potato turns green, it means that it has been exposed to too much sun during storage and has formed the mild poison solanine – which causes headaches, nausea and malaise. It is enough to cut the green areas, and the rest can be easily cooked.
7. Under appropriate conditions, potatoes may be stored for up to one year. However, do not expect them to last that long at home. For such long-term storage of potatoes, well-built equipment and a specialized commercial warehouse are needed.
8. The Incas used potatoes in different ways. Today, all we do with potatoes is eat them. But the Incas had a more comprehensive relationship with them and used them to treat various diseases. The typical remedy for toothache was to bring a potato with you (unfortunately, it is not known exactly what was to be done with it). If a person experienced pain in the muscles or bones, then the broth left over from boiled potatoes was used for treatment.
9. Ordinary potatoes have nothing to do with sweet potatoes called ‘sweet potatoes’. The only connection between them is that they are starchy vegetables that grow underground. But while potatoes are tubers, sweet potatoes are actually just enlarged roots of the plant. They are not even from the same family: the potatoes are from the Potato family, and the sweet potatoes belong to another family.
10. Potatoes are the first grown vegetables in space. In 1995, half of a batch of potatoes was sent by shuttle to Colombia, and the other half was left on Earth. The experiment was successful: there were no noticeable differences between the two groups of potatoes.