Elizabeth Andoh: A Taste of Culture – POTATOES

The potato is native to the Americas; the Incas are believed to have been the first to cultivate wild tubers along the Andes Mountain range. The Incas boiled, roasted, and fermented potatoes; they also dehydrated them to extend storage. In the mid-16th century, gold-seeking Spanish Conquistadors brought the spud to Europe, and from there it spread widely, mostly notably flourishing in Ireland.

The white-fleshed potato first arrived in Japan in 1598 when a Dutch ship unloaded its cargo from Jakarta – it is thought that is the origin of the Japanese name for white-fleshed potatoes: JYGAIMO (Jakarta imo; imo means “tuber”). The earliest record of jyagaimobeing cultivated in Japan dates to 1706 but it wasn’t until the Meiji Era (1868-1912) that potato farming began in earnest. The government encouraged the development of land in Hokkaido and the climate was well suited to growing jyagaimo. Today Hokkaido is famous for its spuds.

Visit my KITCHEN CULTURE Blog to learn about JAPAN’S POTATO LINGO & LORE and to download a recipe for Miso Kampura (pictured above). 

Then visit the Kitchen Culture Cooking Club to explore the many ways of preparing and enjoying potatoes.

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Elizabeth Andoh A Taste of Culture Culinary Arts Program Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-0095, Japan


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