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on white and sweet potatoes

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  • Kathleen Keeler
    ... Smartt and Simmonds,Evolution of Crop Plants is a series of chapters written by different authors on the various crops. I have the second edition, 1995.
    Message 1 of 80 , Dec 31, 2008
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      > 2008/12/31 Greg Lindahl <lindahl@... <mailto:lindahl%40pbm.com>>
      >
      > > On Wed, Dec 31, 2008 at 07:24:39PM +1300, Antonia Calvo wrote:
      > >
      > > > Gerard identifies it as "Battata Virginia" and the description
      > > > definitely jives with potatoes--
      >
      > Could it also be sweet potato? That's the Spanish word for it, at
      > least. In
      > its more
      > general meaning, it means "tuber". It'd be worth checking what the exact
      > meaning is in Latin and Italian.
      >
      > Cheers!
      >
      > And happy new year!! :)
      >
      > Leonor
      >
      Smartt and Simmonds,Evolution of Crop Plants is a series of
      chapters written by different authors on the various crops. I have the
      second edition, 1995. The chapter on potatoes, Solanum tuberosum says
      "The first recorded European contact with the potato was in 1537 in the
      Magdalena Valley. [northern Andes, Colombia]. The Spanish invaders
      became familiar with the crop and it was probably about 1570 that a
      Spanish ship first introduced potatoes to Europe. Legends
      notwithstanding, Raleigh and Drake had no hand in the introduction.
      From Spain, potatoes were widely spread round Europe before the end of
      the century and were repeatedly the object of writings and drawings by
      the herbalists...A source in the northern Andes for the first
      introduction to Europe seems likely.
      "The potatoes of the central Andes were adapted to the prevailing
      short days of those latitudes; they tuber very late or not at all in the
      long days of a north temperate summer. Andean potatoes are therefore
      ill-adapted to Europe and indeed, it was nearly 200 years before the
      crop began to have any significant impact in its new home. By the late
      eighteenth century, clones adapted to long days had emerged." (N. W.
      Simmonds, U. Edinburgh, Scotland p. 468.)

      Looking in the same book at the entry on sweet potatoes, I find
      "Columbus brought the first sweet potatoes from the Americas to Europe,
      where they were referred to as "aje". These starchy types common to the
      West Indies were not sweet and were compared to carrots. Subsequent
      Spanish voyages to Central and South America brought back a sweeter type
      of sweet potato called 'batata" and 'patata" that the Europeans liked
      better. "( J.R. Bohac, P.D. Dukes, US Vegetable Laborator, Charleston SC
      and D.F. Austin Florida Atlantic Univ., p. 57)
      Interestingly, these guys go on to add "The Peruvian potato, Solanum
      tuberosum (later dubbed Irish potato) was introduced about the same
      time. Because it was better adapted in northern Europe, it became the
      predominant potato in northern Europe, whlie the sweet potato remained
      dominant in southern Europe" (ibid). I guess that refers to after the
      18th century, since all but the last 100 years in ancient history to
      researchers. (Well, all but the last 5 years for molecular biologists).
      Sweet potatoes are a southern US crop, so presumably they still need a
      long season.

      I had thought the batata came from the Indian name of sweet potatoes.
      What I found is: my Latin dictionary gives no word at all like it and my
      unabridged English dictionary says potato is from batata which is from a
      Haitian word.

      Cheers,
      Agnes deLanvallei



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    • Katherine Throckmorton
      I ve been thinking for awhile about why I object to New World foods at feasts. It isn t the fact that they aren t period. Its more the fact that it seems
      Message 80 of 80 , Jan 5, 2009
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        I've been thinking for awhile about why I object to New World foods at
        feasts. It isn't the fact that they aren't period. Its more the fact that
        it seems that when things like potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate and turkey were
        served, they would have been a novelty. These foods would have been new and
        exotic and serving them at a feast would have made a statement. Serving
        them as a ordinary part of a feast, with no effort to get people to think
        about how 16th century people would have seen these foods has the effect of
        pulling us into the modern world, where a dish of mashed potatoes is
        commonplace.

        -Katherine


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