On August 19 we celebrate the most versatile of foods, and a national favorite because it is National Potato Day! Whether they are roasted, fried, boiled, or mashed, potatoes are the perfect side for any dish and everyone's favorite comfort food.
Because National Potato Day is an unofficial holiday, its origins are unknown. But it is likely that the day entered people's calendars by the hands of the food industry trying to get the appreciation for this tasty vegetable up.
However, potatoes have been enjoyed for centuries! The first potato crops were planted around 5000-8000 BC in Peru and Bolivia, and from there they have spread all over the world and became a staple in almost all international cuisines. This is because they are such a versatile food, that can be cooked in many different ways, and pair well with nearly every other food that we can think of! They can also be used not only as a side, but to make bread, pancakes, soup, and even drinks.
Potato crops are notorious for how many potatoes they give year-round, as long as the plants get enough sun rays it has enough energy to produce the spuds and to carry on growing. Because it is such a fruitful crop, potatoes have been the main source of sustenance for many populations over the years, seeing as it is so full of nutrients that people can live off only potatoes for months! In fact, between 1845 and 1849 a plague in the potato crops left some of the population of Ireland without potatoes for 4 years, and millions lost their lives due to starvation.
French fries are one of the most popular ways to prepare potatoes. French fries actually arrived in the United States in 1784 when James Heming, Thomas Jefferson's slave, traveled to France with Jefferson so he could learn how to cook them the French way. After returning to the United States, Heming used to cook French fried potatoes to Jefferson's guests, and they quickly became a hit that spread through the country when the recipe was shared in a cookbook in 1817.
Potato is one of the most important ingredient in that Canadian classic comfort dish from Quebec, poutine. A majority of Americans also consider potatoes to be among their favorite comfort food, the three preferred ways they like to eat them are mashed, fried, and baked. Most people eat potatoes for dinner and love slathering their spuds with butter.
What to do on National Potato Day
On National Potato Day you can really go all out and eat potatoes for every meal! You can use regular potatoes or sweet potatoes for any of these.
Start the day by making some delicious and crispy hash browns for your breakfast. You can have these alongside eggs, bacon, or avocado. Potato pancakes are also a good option for your first meal of the day!
For lunch, why not load a baked potato with all of your favorite toppings? These can be anything you want - cheese, tuna, vegetables, beans, chili, the possibilities are endless! Alternatively, you can have a potato salad, a poutine, or go for the classic burger and fries.
Go all out for dinner with the most comforting ways to eat potatoes - mashed or roasted. You can have these as a side to steak, fish, sausages, chicken, stew... Again, the versatility of potatoes allows you to have them as a side to anything your heart desires!