Monday, 15 July 2013

Not Just a Potato


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. 


15 comments:

  1. Looks like I have to visit Bjare Penninsula! With my Polish/Irish ancestry potatoes are my instant comfort food. I could barely contain myself when I saw small red potatoes for the first time in a pazar!

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    1. Isn't it a shame they don't stay red when cooked.

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  2. So did you try the potato vodka? What was it like?

    I too love potatoes. I'm not keen on rice, which appears with every meal here, and would rather have potatoes. I've just eaten shepherds pie with mounds of mashed potato on top...lovely.

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    1. No, I'm not a vodka drinker. I'd rather eat my potatoes

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  3. Oh yes...give me potatoes every time.
    I wonder what the vodka'a like..l

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    1. Not sure I fancy neat vodka eith black pepper.

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  4. Let's hear it for the humble spud. I can't wait to sample the vodka.

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    1. Could take a while to reach Norwich

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  5. Thanks for giving us the skinny on Swedish potatoes. We've never been there so we had no idea about Swedish potatoes. But correct me if I'm wrong. I thought that traditional vodka of the Russian and Polish kind was made with potatoes. Anyway, knock one back for us!

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    1. Yes, i'm sure Russian's made vodka from potates yoo.

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  6. I can take or leave potatoes in any form apart from chips...and that includes potato vodka.
    (Did you ever see the advert 'Daddy... or chips'? I could never understand the question.)

    No, let me clarify. I don't fancy potato vodka at all. Not even a whiff, thanks.
    Did you say why you were in Sweden...?
    Axxx

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  7. I am a huge fan of potatoes too, especially the jersey ones - and would have loved to try that potato vodka!:)

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  8. This is like the culture shock I had when Don and I first moved to Arizona...I'm trying to remember...I don't think they grew potatoes out there! Potatoes were shipped in from other states and other countries. The Hispanic people I knew ate lots of starchy things...but potatoes weren't one of them. And corn wan't eaten as corn on the cob it was ground and made into tortillas. And hot peppers weren't just a seasoning, they were a way of life. And here's me whose ancestors were mostly from England and who was raised on a mostly English derived menu...yikes!!! Of course now I miss it, tamales especially and refried beans and the hot peppers!

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  9. I love spuds too and can't imagine life without them. The Swedes are spot on about the subtle differences in flavour if your can get decent varieties of potato. But I'd rather consume them from my plate than my glass.

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  10. if you want the low down on Poitein drop me a line - the re is obviously a need up there!

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