Spudgate

The Germans’ love of potatoes is probably one of the most accurate clichés ever conceived about us. This particular German is definitely a tuber enthusiast if ever there was one. Potatoes thrill me in any way, shape or form. If you are keen to explore a seriously delicious potato recipe unfamiliar to a majority of Germans and, what is more, to hear about a blatant village scandal in Kent involving not one but two large potatoes, this read will be a treat…

Based on stats by the North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG), Germans consume about 145kgs of potatoes per capita and year, while Brits eat just under 65kgs. It is therefore indeed safe to say Germans are a potato-loving people.

I pride myself in being a prime example of a German in this way. Family lore has it that as a child I used to grab the bowl of left-over potatoes after family lunches and sit under the table with it to eat some more of them in peace and quiet.

Later on as a teenager, I remember, my cure-all food of love were fried potatoes with melted (Gouda) cheese (here we are again, one of my favourite cheeses – if you like Gouda, make sure to read The Ultimate Butterbrot!). My granddad used to whip up Bratkartoffeln mit Käse at my ravenous request any time of day or night, and the magic composition of potato and melted cheese has until the present day remained my go-to consolation food. Thank you, Opa! You always put all your love in it and I miss you dearly.

And then, about two decades down the road, another person cooking for me with love introduced me to yet another one of the most palate-tickling preparations of potatoes that I’ve ever come across: the British roast potato, a perfect blend of tasty softness and crispy crunchiness – oh my God!!! Plus it is also a popular Christmas-dinner component, by the way.

Roast potatoes are not simply cut into wedges, chucked in a tray, sprinkled with olive oil and baked in the oven, oh no! (While this is also a nice dish, it is – to infer an Italian colleague who once commented thus on the difference between filter coffee and espresso – an altogether different product.) Roast potatoes are peeled, halved, parboiled (one of my favourite cooking terms, by the way) and then ‘roughened up’ on the outside, which makes the outer layer solidify into a scrumptiously crispy coat of deliciousness. To. Die. For.

My English husband and I have tried and tested Jamie Oliver’s recipe, which you can find here: https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/potato-recipes/best-roast-potatoes/ – but of course, there are plenty of other recipes.

If you’re in Britain and want to keep it simple, you can find no-fuss oven-ready roast potatoes in any British supermarket.

If you live in Germany and want to find the best potato for this (or any other recipe), I recommend How To Pick A Potato: A Guide To Buying Potatoes In Germany from Christie Dietz’s English-language blog about German food A Sausage Has Two.

And finally to the scandalous machinations of one parishioner in a sleepy village in beautiful Kent: my mother-in-law Jill was a parish councillor at the time, and she was strolling through some allotments when she was greeted by a friendly man who offered her two large potatoes to take home. She did not think much of this other than it being a neighbourly gesture, went home, prepared the potatoes and had them for dinner.

The next day, at a parish council meeting, it turned out that this man had put in for an extension to his house, which required approval by the parish council. Only then did it dawn on Jill that the allotment gardener’s neighbourly gesture had clearly been a bold attempt of bribery! But it was too late: the potatoes had already been eaten.

The uncanny parallels to a famous case of bribery in US-American history imperatively led to these events henceforth being referred to in the village annals as Spudgate.

Whether you are a Reibekuchen, Pommes or Kartoffelpüree person: Hauptsache Spaß gehabt, as my English-come-German husband would say.

The Pommes-Buddha says:  One potato, two potato, three potato, four…

 

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