Potatoes, there’s nothing to them, right? Just boil them, mash them and stick them in a stew. But there’s much more than just fried potatoes, potato chips and mashed potatoes. Oh, so much more. So when in 1984, during a lunch, Soviet ambassador to the UK, Raisa Gorbachev told Michael Joping, the agriculture minister of UK, that there are 300 ways to make the potato, he was rightfully skeptical.
However, 8 months later, to Jopling’s surprise, he received a letter from the Soviet Ambassador. Mrs. Gorbachev wrote:
“In conversation with you at lunch at Chequers [in December], I said that in Belarus [one of the Soviet republics] they have 300 ways of cooking potatoes. It seemed to me that you had your doubts about this, and I promised, when the occasion arose, to send you a book as evidence.
I am keeping my promise. My apologies for being somewhat inaccurate: in fact, there are five hundred, rather than three hundred, recipes to cook potatoes.”
Although written in Russian, there it was, a book containing 500 different recipes in preparing potatoes. Although unfortunately the book was never made publicly available, we did manage to find one book that has 500 different recipes for potatoes (go here). While we can’t say if it’s better or worse than the original, one thing is certain, you’ll never look at potatoes the same way again.
While it’s an interesting story, this should open up our minds that so much more is possible with our food. For cooks, this is an eye-opener and a reminder to stay creative. For vegans, it should show that there are countless possibilities for creative and delicious meals made from even the simplest of foods. And for potato lovers like myself, well, it means that for the next 1.5 years I may be having a different potato dish every day.