By indexer
180 days ago

The myth of Sir Walter Raleigh's potatoes

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The “common knowledge” story is that Sir Walter Raleigh introduced the potato to England and presented specimens of it to Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, on returning from Virginia. Not only did Sir Walter give her a new American colony but a portion of spuds to celebrate the occasion.

There is a lot that is wrong with this story. For one thing, people at the top of society, such Sir Walter and Queen Elizabeth, had absolutely no interest in vegetables – that was what poor people ate.

For another, potatoes did not grow in North America. They had sweet potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, but not spuds.

So maybe it was Sir Francis Drake who brought potatoes home with him? He did, after all, visit South America, which is where potatoes originated. It is known that he was given potatoes in Chile in 1577, but these would not have survived to 1580, which is when he returned to England.

Efforts to link famous people to the potato are doomed to failure. It is known that Europeans knew about potatoes as early as 1537, having found them in what is now Colombia. Specimens had reached Spain by 1570 and they reached England in the 1590s.

It cannot be said that the potato was originally welcomed with open arms, despite its current popularity. The problem was that strict Protestants refused to eat anything that was not mentioned in the Bible, so anything not grown in the “Holy Land” and surrounding areas was off limits.

Catholics – ever practical – found a neat way round the problem. If seed potatoes were sprinkled with holy water and planted on Good Friday, that was enough to prevent divine wrath descending on any consumers of the humble spud!
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Smokey2017 I love chips freshly home made
You do know smokey number one here
And the most popular one
And the most oldest 2 year 😂😂😂😂😂
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dorageorg So nice
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indexer @dorageorg Hm! Do you mean the potatoes or the article?!
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bee @indexer I love potatos. I almost always have an element of them with my meals. I think king Edward potato makes a good mash. Maris piper good in potato dauphinois.
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