I went to China on a work trip once.
To a region notorious for cooking cats, turtles and snakes. Not great for a veggie so after visiting the Buddhist Temple in Guangxiao, and feeling some relief at the number of turtles and cats re-homed there, we happily wandered into a vegetarian restaurant tucked away down a side street. Handed menus filled with photos of dubious looking fake meat dishes, with names you’d expect to find on any Chinese Take-away menu here, I pointed tentatively, whispered reassurances to myself and tried to ignore the impatience of our waitress who was clearly used to more rapid fire ordering.
me – [pointing] this potato dish please.
her – [nod]
me – this chicken one. But it’s not really chicken is it?
her – no, mock chicken, made with potato flour
me – this dish here. Is it good?
her – [shakes her head]. This one is better, pork.
me – what about this one?
her – [shakes her head]
me – what’s wrong with it?
her – made of potato
me – potato’s good. We like potato.
her – everything you order is potato. Try something different. Have beef
I rest my case for why spuds rule! Wartime Woolton Pie might have proved more popular with the nation if someone had thought to fashion potato starch into chicken. Personally I think nothing beats the simplicity of a good old fashioned baked potato. Robinta’s my skin of choice and I’m in good company it seems after attending the Potato Day event at the weekend.
I almost called this post ‘lunching with Spud McQueen‘ but that wouldn’t have been strictly true. ‘Pouncing on Spud McQueen while he quietly ate his lunch and chatting for ages because he was too nice to turn me away‘ is a bit of a long title don’t you think? It was a charming conversation and Andy (that’s his real name when he’s not got his potato guru hat on) is one of the loveliest people I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet (if you spot him at any of the other Potato Day events you must go and say ‘hello’). I caught him mid chuckle in this picture as he playfully asked ‘Do you want me to comb my hair?’
I came away with half a dozen tubers of about 10 different varieties based on Andy’s recommendations. Much easier than trying to make up my own mind from the 100+ available. And I couldn’t believe how little they cost – a wallet loving £4.66. So roll on Easter time when potato sowing season starts. In the meantime I’m off to look for egg boxes to start chitting my tubers. I’ll catch up with you later in the week with Andy’s Top 10.
ps. If you’re still wondering about those Chinese potato dishes rest assured they didn’t taste of meat at all. Or potato for that matter. The mashed potato dish arrived looking like a chicken though – with beady black eyes and pointy beak included!