Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Skillet Fried Potatoes

Copyright 2011 Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.


When the European diet expanded to include potatoes, not only were farmers able to produce much more food, they also gained protection against the catastrophe of a grain crop failure and periodic population checks caused by famine. Highly nutritious potatoes also helped mitigate the effects of such diseases as scurvy, tuberculosis, measles and dysentery. The higher birth rates and lower mortality rates potatoes encouraged led to a tremendous population explosion wherever the potato traveled, particularly in Europe, the US and the British Empire.

Historians debate whether the potato was primarily a cause or an effect of the huge population boom in industrial-era England and Wales. Prior to 1800, the English diet had consisted primarily of meat, supplemented by bread, butter and cheese. Few vegetables were consumed, most vegetables being regarded as nutritionally worthless and potentially harmful. This view began to change gradually in the late 1700s. At the same time as the populations of London, 

Liverpool and Manchester were rapidly increasing, the potato was enjoying unprecedented popularity among farmers and urban workers. The Industrial Revolution was drawing an ever increasing percentage of the populace into crowded cities, where only the richest could afford homes with ovens or coal storage rooms, and people were working 12-16 hour days which left them with little time or energy to prepare food. High yielding, easily prepared potato crops were the obvious solution to England's food problems. Not insignificantly, the English were also rapidly acquiring a taste for potatoes, as is evidenced by the tuber's increasing popularity in recipe books from the time. Hot potato vendors and merchants selling fish and chips wrapped in paper horns became ubiquitous features of city life. Between 1801 and 1851, England and Wales experienced an unprecedented population explosion, their combined population doubling to almost 18 million.

Before the widespread adoption of the potato, France managed to produce just enough grain to feed itself each year, provided nothing went wrong, but something usually did. The precariousness of the food supply discouraged French farmers from experimenting with new crops or new farming techniques, as they couldn't afford any failures. On top of hundreds of local famines, there were at least 40 outbreaks of serious, nationwide famine between 1500 and 1800. The benefits of the potato, which yielded more food per acre than wheat and allowed farmers to cultivate a greater variety of crops for greater insurance against crop failure, were obvious wherever it was adopted. The potato insinuated itself into the French diet in the form of soups, boiled potatoes and pommes-frites. The fairly sudden shift towards potato cultivation in the early years of the French Revolution allowed a nation that had traditionally hovered on the brink of starvation in times of stability and peace to expand its population during a decades-long period of constant political upheaval and warfare. The uncertainly of food supply during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, combined with the tendency of above-ground crops to be destroyed by soldiers, encouraged France's allies and enemies to embrace the tuber as well; by the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the potato had become a staple food in the diets of most Europeans.

The most dramatic example of the potato's potential to alter population patterns occurred in Ireland, where the potato had become a staple by 1800. The Irish population doubled to eight million between 1780 and 1841 — this, without any significant expansion of industry or reform of agricultural techniques beyond the widespread cultivation of the potato. Though Irish landholding practices were primitive in comparison with those of England, the potato's high yields allowed even the poorest farmers to produce more healthy food than they needed with scarcely any investment or hard labor. Even children could easily plant, harvest and cook potatoes, which of course required no threshing, curing or grinding. The abundance provided by potatoes greatly decreased infant mortality and encouraged early marriage. Accounts of Irish society recorded by contemporary visitors paint the picture of a people as remarkable for their health as for their lack of sophistication at the dinner table, where potatoes typically supplied appetizer, dinner and dessert.
By http://www.history-magazine.com/potato.html

Skillet Fried Potatoes
Copyright 2011 Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.

Ingredients:
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt & pepper, to taste
vegetable oil, enough to cover bottom of pan

Directions:
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Peel and cube potatoes. Add potatoes to skillet, sprinkle salt and pepper. Cover. Cook about 10 minutes. Remove lid. Turn the potatoes. Cook until tender. Enjoy!









19 comments:

  1. Christine, nice information about potatoes! I learnt a lot from your post!!!

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  2. I love potatoes done like this but being a garlic fan I usually add garlic as well. Diane

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  3. Christine, thanks for the details. I love potatoes too and glad it's still safe to be eaten. Recently, There's some kind of viruses are attacking the green plants in Europe. Most green vegetables are poisioning and not suitable to be consumed. That is really bad! Hope they'll be back to normal soon.
    Blessings, Kristy

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  4. I so want these with my morning eggs right now!

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  5. Christine... This is one of our favorite ways to cook potatoes. We like it a bit spicy so we also some onion powder or flakes and some garlic powder. Have a great day! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

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  6. Your potatoes look so good and crispy! I always have problems making it crispy:o(

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  7. Hi Food fun and life, I usually add garlic too, but this time I decided not to. :-)

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  8. Hi My little space, I wish them well.

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  9. Hi Tiffany, fried potatoes and eggs... yummy!

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  10. Hi Kecker, try my recipe, I think you will be happy you did. Potatoes are crispy. :-)

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  11. Love crispy potatoes! Great side-dish!

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  12. Yummy! Sounds like a fabulous & easy way to make crispy potatoes... Thanks for sharing :)

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  13. Yes I like too, crispy potatoes are irresistible, thanks for share the history of potatoes and this recipe
    Cristina

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  14. We love potatoes and this sounds simplet, yet delicious! Thanks for all the info on the potato!

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  15. There is nothing better than crunchy simple potatoes :)! These sound delish!

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  16. Hi Christine, I didn't know there was so much lore behind potatoes. You've been making all kinds of yummy stuff over here. When I saw this one, it made me smile, my husbands favorite thing in the world is fried potatoes. Hope you are having a great week.
    -Gina-

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