Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Potato Varieties for Fun and Profit

The Désirée is a red-skinned main crop potato originally bred in the Netherlands in 1962. It has yellow flesh with a distinctive flavour and is a favourite with allotment-holders because of its resistance to drought, and is fairly resistant to disease. It is a versatile, fairly waxy variety which is firm and holds its shape and useful for all methods of cooking; from roasting to mashing and salads.

The Russet Burbank potato is a large potato with dark brown skin and few eyes. Its flesh is white, dry, and mealy, and it is good for baking, mashing, and french fries. It is a common and popular potato. Russet potato came to headlines in 2014 when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented a pair of russet potatoes to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Kerry stated that the gift was in reference to a previous conversation and was not motivated by any hidden meaning or metaphor.

The Robertson Emperor is a grandiose, elaborate potato.  It has a floury, mealy flesh which is not well suited to boiling or steaming.  However, when triple roasted in duck fat and rubbed on the inside of a silver tureen, it is capable of raising even the most tarnished tableware to a brilliant shine.

The Blackroot Honeycrown is a traditional Iberian throwing potato.  Its rough and pitted skin affords an excellent grip to the thrower but sacrifices the control thus gained for raw speed of delivery due to the aerodynamic drag.  Legend has it that the champion Honeycrown tosser Anante Tescolenes will one day return to earth on a golden blimp to revive the lost art of "Acuraverio", or flinging the potato with such violence that it spontaneously self-exfoliates and arrives at the target entirely devoid of skin.

The Cheerful Florence was bred in 1930's New Jersey in an attempt to lighten the lives of the poor slum-folk of Newark.  When immersed in water to cook, the steam escaping from its eyes forms bubbles which, to a sufficiently imaginative or desperate listener, seem to tap out of the rhythm of some of Cole Porter's lesser known Broadway show tunes.  It was not a popular success and is believed to be extinct.

Doctor Starlight's Opal Fritter is a disappointing potato.  Blandly flavoured, mushy fleshed, smelling faintly of used cat litter, and drab grey in colour, it is nevertheless a common entrant in the North American Tuber Fancy shows since 1992 due to the commercial clout of Monsanto which continues to heavily subsidize the Opal Fritter, whose patent rights they acquired in mysterious circumstances during an Egyptian river cruise with representatives of the Vatican.  Approximately 1 in every 2 million Opal Fritters will contain a skin lesion resembling Gene Wilder.  These rare specimens are highly prized among members of Gene Wilder's family.

The Dragonclaw Dragontalon Dragonlady Katana Griffonclaw Axekiller is a good mashing potato but is surprisingly vulnerable to frosty weather.  It grows well in drier, well-drained soils and will flourish with regular top ups of potash and a little TLC to keep it free from pests.

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