Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sailor Spud

I harvested our potato crop recently.  Did pretty well for a novice I think.  We netted 7 kilograms (15 lbs) from our mini-garden.  Everything from ping pong ball size to large fist sized ones.    Very tasty and no pesticides, or insecticides used.



Sailors and potatoes go way back.  In movies involving American military life, there is often a scene of sailors peeling potatoes (though I prefer to eat the skins whenever possible).

I had a neighbor - Merle - when I was at university who had served aboard the BB-38 USS Pennsylvania during World War II.   He was there when Pearl Harbor was attacked.  At the time, the Pennsy was in dry-dock, but still received battle damage.

When they got underway again, they went over to Maui and anchored in Lahaina Rhodes, a sheltered area between the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, to re-provision the ship.    Merle was sent ashore to find potatoes.  The Pennsylvania was the largest battleship that US Navy ever had, with a compliment of over 1300 officers and men, so they could go through a lot of potatoes in a hurry!   And Maui didn't grow a lot of them as you might imagine - mostly sugar cane and pineapple.   So basically, they got every potato on the island.

How many sailors does it take to peel a potato?

Potatoes were first cultivated by the Inca about 2300 years ago.   When Spain conquered the Inca in the early 16th Century, they brought some back to Spain and eventually families of Basque sailors raised them in northern Spain as a staple that could be taken to sea.

Sir Walter Raleigh planted some 40,000 acres of them in Ireland in the late 16th century, from where they spread to other parts of Europe.

Speaking of Sir Walter - here's Bob Newhart in 1961 doing a skit about him:



Potatoes are the fourth largest food crop in the world after corn, rice, and wheat.  The diet of every successful civilization has been based on one of those starches or variant thereof.  In the case of Pacific Islanders it was sweet potatoes and taro/kalo/dalo.

Of course so called "French fried" potatoes, while the most consumed vegetable of Americans (No, I'm not making that up), is not in the same category being filled with fat, trans fatty acids, sodium, and acrylamide (a carcinogen). 

My corn is blossoming and I'm looking forward to that small crop - just 20 or so plants in three stages to spread out the harvest.   Other veggies are doing well.  We are starting to get really nice zucchini now, and are eating broccoli regularly. 

Sailing again tomorrow (I hope!).  

Until next, sweet sailing.

From the 'everything you know is wrong' department -  It was the Frenchman Jean Nicot, from whose name the word nicotine is derived, who introduced tobacco to France in 1560, and it was from France, not the New World, that tobacco reached England.

4 comments:

Baydog said...

Interesting. And I love Bob Newhart

Pandabonium said...

Baydog - Love Bob Newhart too. Used to memorize his act when I was a teen.

bonnie said...

My garden's coming along nicely too! I had flown back from Michigan yesterday and decided to go out to the garden and water because it's so hot. I picked the first chard last night, along with the second round of lamb's-quarters. The basil needed thinning and I also pulled a few onions - sauteed all of those together and stirred them and some of the last of last year's pesto into a very nice pasta dish for dinner (sorry, not vegetarian, I did throw in some Serrano ham).

And the tomatoes and cucumbers are both on their way!

Pandabonium said...

Bonnie - sorry about the pig, but glad you are enjoying the fruits of your labor from the garden. That part sounds yummy.

Last night I cooked organic genmai (brown rice), steamed zucchini which I scooped out and filled with steamed potatoes, the scooped zucchini, garlic, and on the side spinach. Should have taken a picture.

Gardening is fun, isn't it? Glad your patch survived the storm.