Happy National Potato Day

Today is Ireland’s National Potato Day. I assumed for a few minutes, some time ago, that this was an internationally-celebrated festival.

I had been messaging a woman from Peru with very limited English. I have no Spanish. I was using Google Translate – a high risk strategy, given its purported translation from English and back via Russian of the idiom “Out of sight, out of mind” to “Blind idiot”. One day during our chat, the Peruvian opened the discussion with the words “Happy Potato Day!”

I told her I had never heard of Potato Day outside of Ireland! Potatoes are very popular here, I said. We have a long history with the potato, and there was a Famine in the 1840s, caused by all the potatoes in the country being wiped out.

She confirmed that she was celebrating Potato Day in her country, and that they celebrate it every year.

The Irish diet entirely comprised potato and milk for the vast majority of the population, for a couple of hundred years, I told her. It was said to be among the best diets in Europe at the time, I mansplained knowledgeably; the main variety of potato grown here was among the most nutritious. In other parts of Europe, poor quality food (in the cities, for example) meant that a Wicklow tenant farmer was healthy even relative to a reasonably wealthy Parisian merchant.

My Peruvian friend told me that she was buying her potato a nice gift in Lima later that day, and that she was cooking a tasty dinner for her potato in the evening. She said her potato was the best. I checked the Spanish and realised that “papa” was not meant to be read as potato.

Google Translate had rendered papa as potato. I explained the reasons for my tuber-related musings, unrelated to Father’s Day. Luckily we both saw the funny side.

On another occasion, when we’d been discussing the late Chavez, Bush, Obama, and Pope Benedict, she told me that she was delighted that a decent South American now led the Catholic Church as its holy potato.

Anyway, Happy National Potato Day everybody! Visit this site here and have a good one!

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