1. The Potato
The potato is a starch-filled tuber, originally from Peru (and parts of Bolivia) and was domesticated sometime after 8000 BCE.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The potato was not an instant hit in Great Britain. Uncooked, the strange new food was bitter. The pious rejected potatoes since they grew underground, Satan’s realm. So they tested it in their original “colony”—Ireland. ... By the 1700s potatoes were widely cultivated in Ireland. The moist, cloudy and cool climate was uncannily like the South American highlands of their origin. The typical Irish peasant ate from eight to 14 pounds of potatoes each day, providing 80 percent of caloric intake.
“Nearly the perfect food, potatoes are loaded with protein, vitamins and complex carbohydrates.” The dependency of the Irish on the potato as a staple crop, and a subsequent potato blight, led to the famine and the great exodus across the sea. By one estimation, it is the fifth most important crop worldwide. Its identification with Ireland and the Irish people is a potent reminder of past travails, a symbol to the down-to-earth decency of the people of the Emerald Isle, and a whimsical touchstone in popular culture.
A classic old-timey standby, the potato may be cooked, fricasseed, boiled, braised, toasted, bisected, murdered, drowned, resurrected, eaten raw, eaten dry, accused, judged, hanged, denied by a court of its peers, stoned and combined with all kinds of edibles: beef, chicken, pork, reptilian beef, vegetables, squirrel, Ent, stew of forest, oysters, whales, megawhales, all 25 species of zebra and every other mammal worth giving two hoots in hell for.
2. The Potato
Photo by peace6x, CC BY-SA 2.0
Look, this is really a one-joke premise: Ireland lasted on the potato and nothing else for several centuries, because the British overlords adopted cruel and oppressive economic policies against the impoverished land of Eire.
Here’s another historical question: can I really make it through an entire list where it’s just potatoes? It’s unfortunate, and unfair, given that potatoes come from South America to begin with. I probably should shut this down right here and right now, instead of continuing this bit. You’ve been a wonderful crowd. Thank you. Thank you. Good night, and good luck.
3. The Potato
Photo by Ernesto Andrade, CC BY-ND 2.0
Hi, I’m Paste’s Jason Rhode. You may know me as the guy who never shuts the hell up about potatoes, or anything he deems a potato. One time I designated a genuine international crisis as a potato, and the nasally-voiced news media had a field day with it. So maybe I’m the jerk. But all of the people on the street I asked about the potato crisis just nodded their heads, and looked away, as if in great sadness. Thereby proving that I was right, and everyone agreed with me. Check … and mate.
I guess what I’m saying is, don’t let the haters get you down, because if they die—as all haters one day must—you can devour them and gain their powers, what little powers haters have. Here’s a fun fact: potatoes, like haters, are full of the stuff that makes you live: magic. Pure, uncut magic. P.S. Magic is what I call calories. I don’t really understand how they work, so I just assume they’re magic.
I understand you’re skeptical about this eating thing I’m explaining to you. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. You mean I put something in my mouth and it makes me not die? Whoa, hold the phone George Lucas Houdini! Why don’t I just summon a crystal dragon to take me to “Live Forever” Falls?
4. The Potato
Photo by Peter Grima, CC BY-SA 2.0
Called by some “the nutrition of kings,” potatoes have long been counted in “gandalfs.” A gandalf is a measurement which explains just how much wizardly mana you have. Before you tell me it’s a nonsense metric, that mana isn’t real, let me ask you a simple question: How many bullets can your eldritch spell-wrought spells stop? None? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Try reading up on mana then, son, and then maybe you’ll discover you’re a bleedin’ wizard. Literally!
Once you’ve accepted that, we can move on to logic. No potatoes mean no gandalfs which mean no mana which mean no shields. Next time you’re face to face with a gun and you see a bullet speeding towards you in Matrix-like slow-mo, remember that potatoes are arguably the only barrier between you—a living and occasionally breathing human—and totally gross and trashy bullet-ridden death.
5. The Potato
Photo by lotherington, CC BY 2.0
Teens have been innovating for years. Science now tells us that the soul does not physically enter the body until well after eighteen, thereby giving plenty of room for innovation. Why, if anybody knows about trying new things and skateboarding towards the future, it’s adolescence, famous home of sobriety and good judgment. Many of our major innovations from the last years, such as starbooze, chimp novel and rocksexuality, have only came about because the high schools of America were willing to put up the gold and gift cards to make it happen: teen-style. But tell me, doubters, if teens are so great, then why have they not replaced the potato?
The last big breakthrough in potato-crafting happened during the Reagan Presidency, when the highly psychotic sweet potato was invented. Now confined to prison cafeterias in Iowa, the sweet potato did terrible things. Terrible, terrible things. But we did something worse: think that we could replace the potato. Now we live, as Dr. Dre warned us, in the millennium of aftermath.
Before you scoff at it, before you sneer at the idea of potatoes as eternal food, remember, won’t you, that when it comes to the potato, nothing, literally nothing is small potatoes—I will pause for the gale-force of raw, dry-throated, graveyard laughter that is sure to follow that dee-licious pun. Let us recognize that when St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, a valuable meat source was lost. That was the cost of establishing a poisonless paradise, but we wouldn’t have this holiday today, and really, isn’t that the best deal of all?
This holiday, remember that luck of the Irish was to have the world’s best foodstuff at their door, and to have the greenest holiday of all named after them. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated across America. All of the British Holidays—Kettlemas, Soccer-Eve, Dickens’ Birthday, and National We Lost to America Day (July 4)—pale in comparison to the humble festival from a tiny, rain-drenched aisle. When the Potato wins, Ireland wins, and when Ireland wins, we all, in some non-specific sense, win. Thank you.
Main/lead photo by United Soybean Board, CC BY 2.0