Turks do not hold the potato in very high esteem, it comes a long way down the list of essential vegetables and when faced with old fashioned British cuisine that expects to see a spud in some form or another on every dinner plate, they secretly mock our lack of imagination and extol the value of bread with every meal. I love potatoes and am especially fond of a creamy mound of mash with any dish that involves gravy or a crispy crusted potato with my Sunday Roast. (This is now an imaginary meal as the price of meat in Turkey has rocketed so far up in the stratosphere that a large joint is an economic impossibility.)
I've just spent 11 days in the land of the potato. The Bjare peninsula in Sweden is famed for these tubers and when the first of the year is picked in May, the whole event is televised. In June, there is a "potato day". Local restaurants develop recipes to showcase new potatoes and there is talk of "terroir" with flavours being subtly altered by the amount of clay or sand in the soil or nearness of the field to the sea. A new potato should be eaten on the day it is unearthed and they are sold by the roadside as soon as they are harvested so you buy a good half kilo of mud with your crop. However the sign above is slightly misleading. If you ask for Karlsson's Gold, you'll get it in a shot glass over ice with a dash of black pepper.
When overproduction in 2001 caused the price of potatoes to drop, farmers turned to a more lucrative market for their crop and this new potato vodka was created by the producers of Absolut vodka. I'm told it is an acquired taste but is steadily gaining popularity outside the Bjare peninsula. I wonder what Turkish barmen will make of potato vodka.