Far from being dropped like a hot potato, the humble spud has been given a year all of its own by the United Nations. Yes, next year is the International Year of the Potato. Food security and poverty alleviation are two of the things that the funds from the promotion of the potato will go into. Well, let’s not say that the UN does not peel for the dispossessed. This is good news for us, as we are the third largest aloo-producing nation in the world. Its significance and utility has not been lost on our political establishment, not least the irrepressible Railway Minister Lalu Yadav. Once asked about his future, he replied, “Jab tak samosa mein aloo, tab tak Bihar mein Lalu.”
Now the potato lends itself, chameleon-like, to just about any form of cooking. For the gastronomically-inclined who fear no calories, there is nothing quite like a creamy dish of mashed potatoes. Not for nothing is talk show host Oprah Winfrey considered literally larger-than-life. Her girthfulness said, “My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with.” Such is the demand for it, we see many new hybrids coming into the market. A chip of the old stock, really. When the chips are down, is there anything more comforting than a large bag of chips, flavoured or plain?
For those who don’t want to ingest the potato in its solid form, there are other options. Keep your spirits up with vodka made from the plain potato. You can have your tot and eat it too: the Russians wolf down potatoes with the same zeal with which they knock back its liquid form. To be called a couch potato may imply that you are a little lazy but don’t let that dishearten you. According to A.A. Milne whose Winnie Pooh we love so much, “If a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.” On which note, let’s pass the chips around.