The Inca’s lasting gift to the world, the potato feeds people all over the planet. Following the discovery of the New World, Spanish plundered the palaces, and their Galleons carried off gold and silver by the ton, but that was only money. The foods they took from Native American farmers would ultimately feed the world. Where would we be without corn, or chocolate, or potatoes?

Potatoes originated in the Andes Mountains of Peru, and had been cultivated by the Incas since around 5000 BCE. The Spanish brought them back to Europe where they were met with great reluctance. Potatoes weren’t mentioned in the Bible, so God hadn’t ordained them as “Christian food.” Potatoes are members of the nightshade family; the plant is poisonous. Potatoes were fed to the inmates of asylums and prisons. Their wide spread acceptance came later.

They grow almost everywhere. Potatoes tolerate terrible soils and challenging climates. They are the first and only food to be grown in space. They grow almost anywhere, and produce generous yields when they do.

Potatoes are healthy food. Dieters avoid them because of the calorie content. They miss out on all the essential vitamins and minerals in the potato and its skin. They also miss out on some great taste sensations. Eat potatoes in moderation if you are dieting, but do try some of the potato recipes offered [in The Champagne taste/Beer Budget Cookbook]. Whether you’re serving indoors or out, they will add something to your table.

FRENCH FRIES

French fries are available at even the finest restaurants. They’re the mainstay of more modest restaurants, and fast food places. You can prepare great French fries right at home in your own kitchen. You can fry them in a deep pot of boiling oil, but boiling oil is messy and dangerous. They are worth it. When you taste homemade French fries, you will want to serve them again and again. Invest in an electric fry cooker if you plan to make French fries at home often.

French fries aren’t French. They’re an American invention. Thomas Jefferson is supposed to have served them at diplomatic receptions before potatoes became popular in Europe. Enjoy French fries; they’re as American as apple pie.

4 to 6 medium potatoes

Canola oil

Heat the oil to boiling, about 325°F in a deep straight-sided pan. Better yet heat the oil in fry cooker designed for the process.

Peel the potatoes if you like. Wash them, and then cut them into 1/4″ x 1/4″ sticks. Let dry on a paper towel. Immerse them in the hot oil and cook for 17 minutes. Drain, salt and serve.

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