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A brief historyof a Passover staple

By: Judy Pister

Finding a human being who has actually never eaten apotato or potato derivative might just be impossible. The potato, being thethird most renowned food item in the human being after rice and also grains, is the singlemost eaten vegetable by far. And of course, the a Passover staple.

I would like to take you on a trip todiscover the potato’s roots and also its lengthy route through history to ourdinner tables.

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Although its popularity hardly necessitatesa meaning or introduction, let me begin with specifically that: the potato isdefined as a round vegetable the grows underground and also has a white flesh witha irradiate brown or reddish skin.

Potatoes are available global and allyear long. They are fairly cheap to grow, rich in nutrients, and they canmake a very delicious treat.

They room a great sourceof vitamins C and also B6, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, and pantothenic acid (vitaminB5).


Acbarisalcity.orgding to most sources, the firstpotatoes to be grown in Peru hundreds of years ago.

During the moment of Columbus, when Spanishexplorers took trip to south America searching for treasures such together gold andsilver, they discovered potatoes. That took part time to realize the worth of thiscommodity –the Incas had emerged a method to keep potatoes through dehydratingand mashing them into what they dubbed Chuñu. Chuñu had a shelf life of up to10 year so explorers ultimately saw the benefit of storing that aboard theirships. Since crossing the Atlantic in the 16th century took abouttwo months, recognize a food staple that might make the trip without spoilingwas of far-reaching importance.

When the explorers take it the crop back toSpain, the potato ended up being a stranger in a strange land and for some time,received very little attention, reserved mostly as food for animals. Potatoes werefirst looked at v suspicion, due to the fact that they came from one unknown civilizationand were also thought to it is in a production of witches and also therefore not suitable forhumans.

Around 40 years after arriving andstruggling to clear up in the brand-new continent, it ended up being clear the potato was aforce to recon with. Since potatoes were discovered to grow quickly in the Europeancountryside and with fairly small amounts of water, an ext and an ext fallowlands were reinvented to potato crops. Eventually, the potato got to Italy,France, England, Germany, Ireland, and also other countries. Famines during the 18thcentury helped the potato acquire popularity, since it was a hardy crop thatusually fared fine in many soil varieties and conditions.

Once physicians began to speak the thepotato’s enormous nutritional value, it came to be a favourite for the upper classand royalty. Palace chefs and culinary enthusiasts elevated the potato to newlevels through elaborate food preparation methods and also flavours.

Unfortunately, the potato has a dark periodas well. The most far-ranging negative affect for the potato emerged duringthe at an early stage 19th century. The an excellent Ireland potato famine, initiallystarted by a potato blight infestation, destroyed the chop over number of years andwas augmented by federal government actions and also inactions. Since potatoes had become astaple crop that grew well on irish soil -- not due to the fact that the Incas had potatoconsumption come to be so large -- its necessity to feed the masses was relied top top tooheavily. The bad lived on potatoes almost exclusively and the remainder of thepopulation consumed it in huge quantities come the degree that half thepopulation relied on it. The result famine contributed to the deaths ofover a million people and also the emigration of another 2 million human being to othercountries.

Although potatoes were introduced to theUnited claims in the 17th century, the flow of ireland immigrants toNorth America in the 1800s assisted the potato get popularity ~ above this next ofthe Atlantic.

Given the prestige of water to the worldpopulation, the adhering to chart deserve to quickly show the value of the potato together afood source:

Food Item

Water required to Grow

Potato, 1kg


Apples, 1kg


Pasta (dry), 1kg


Rice, 1kg


Chocolate, 1kg


Source: IMF

Perhaps coco does no merit cite inthe above chart however for illustration purposes, one can begin to establish thevalue of the humble potato.

Since no machine or handling isrequired to produce potatoes, they are simple to grow and harvest. Grain crops,on the various other hand, require equipment for threshing, milling, sorting, and also splittingbefore they deserve to be used. Rice needs drying, hulling, and milling.

Overall, the potato is much easier to grow, hasa higher yield, and is an ext nutritious than rice or wheat. No other food is amatch for the potato in the value it offers to the world’s food needs.

Fit for a King

Once the potato overcame the dismalbeginnings in Europe, culinary specialists elevated it to kings’ and also presidents’tables in various delectable forms.

From a kosher perspective, this provided thepotato a standing of request Bishul Yisroel. In bespeak to accomplish therequirement that Bishul Yisroel, a kosher-observant Jew have to take part inthe cooking process by starting the fire.

The PesachConnection

At the start of the seder, wetake a vegetable the would usually only be consumed as component of a meal, dip that insalt water, and also eat it before the meal. This is complied with by the youngest childasking the ma nishtana or why is this night different from all various other nights.

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Although the vegetable can be from a listof vegetable that flourish in the ground such as parsley or celery, countless use aboiled potato.

During Pesach, since we room prohibited fromeating any type of food containing any type of of the five grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye,and spelt) or your derivatives, and also Ashkenazim have to refrain native kitniyot(legumes such as beans, barisalcity.orgn, rice etc.), the potato has end up being an importantelement of Pesach cuisine. As well, potatostarch, the dehydrated strength extracted from potatoes, serves as a floursubstitute and can be offered to bake with during Pesach.

We know that a potato is not chometzbut what around kitniyot?

The Mishnah Berura (453, 1) enumeratesa variety of reasons for the minhag of not eating kitniyot. Onereason is that there is a possibility that chometz grains might be mixedamongst the kitniyot grains, developing an inadvertent yet real chometzproblem when the grains are cooked together. The Kaf HaChaim (453, 21)therefore explains that due to the fact that the potato is a huge vegetable and it wouldnot obtain mixed v a grain and remain unnoticed, the worry for kitniyotwould not apply.

Besides the above, the Mishna Beruragives another reason to speak to something kitniyot. He defines thatsomething that deserve to be ground right into flour might be puzzled with bread. So how ispotato starch permitted on Pesach?

Acbarisalcity.orgding to Rav Moshe Feinstein (OrachChaim III, 63), since the barred on particular foods to be taken into consideration kitniyotwas determined prior to the potato was introduced to Europe in the 16thcentury, the potato and also its derivatives room not considered kitniyot.Many kashrut organizations consisting of barisalcity.org follow this opinion.

The potato’s popular in many cuisines includingthose that Jewish beginning leads me to encompass an honourable cite of a Jewishdelicacy: the potato kugel. The potato kugel or kigel received its namefrom the German word for sphere, although that is now usually baked in arectangular pan.

No matter just how the potato is prepared, andthere are many ways because that boiling, frying, baking, and roasting potatoes, ithas now become a beneficial mainstay the civilization over. A quick internet find nets175 million hits.

In Hebrew the potato is dubbed tapuachadama or apple of the ground. The exact same is true for French - pomme deterre, and also German – erdapfel. The popular phrase “apple of mine eye”means a cherished item over all others. Maybe there is a connection…