Discussion:
getting the green bits off spuds
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Jack Campin - bogus address
2009-06-20 22:09:22 UTC
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I was peeling potatoes this evening and remembered something from
my childhood in London in the early 1950s. I was in the kitchen
with my grandma peeling potatoes, and she was utterly pernickety
about getting every last speck of green off them. I (aged in
single figures) thought this was bizarre.

My grandma was born in the 1880s in Glasgow of Irish parents. She
was bright and energetic (kept all her marbles to the end of her
long life) but she was the worst cook I have ever personally
encountered; she lost her sense of smell at the age of 16 and spent
her remaining 80 years not even trying to compensate. Everything
got boiled to make sure it was dead. So taste wasn't an issue.
She thought the green bits were poisonous.

OK, they are. But people don't get obvious acute poisoning from
them; they're mildly anticholinergic. Maybe they cause nervous
system damage in long-term consumption. And there seems to be some
association between mothers eating solanine from potatoes and their
children having neural-tube defects, but that wasn't known in the
Fifties. My gran didn't grow up surrounded by people turning blue
and dying of convulsions from not peeling their spuds right.

What would an intelligent working-class Glasgow-Irish woman of that
generation have seen as the problem? (She was officially Catholic
but had no religious impulses or superstitions that I ever noticed;
she was about as folklore-proof as Snopes).

==== j a c k at c a m p i n . m e . u k === <http://www.campin.me.uk> ====
Jack Campin, 11 Third St, Newtongrange EH22 4PU, Scotland == mob 07800 739 557
CD-ROMs and free stuff: Scottish music, food intolerance, and Mac logic fonts
****** I killfile Google posts - email me if you want to be whitelisted ******
Richard Wright
2009-06-24 23:53:43 UTC
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On Sat, 20 Jun 2009 23:09:22 +0100, Jack Campin - bogus address
Post by Jack Campin - bogus address
I was peeling potatoes this evening and remembered something from
my childhood in London in the early 1950s. I was in the kitchen
with my grandma peeling potatoes, and she was utterly pernickety
about getting every last speck of green off them. I (aged in
single figures) thought this was bizarre.
My grandma was born in the 1880s in Glasgow of Irish parents. She
was bright and energetic (kept all her marbles to the end of her
long life) but she was the worst cook I have ever personally
encountered; she lost her sense of smell at the age of 16 and spent
her remaining 80 years not even trying to compensate. Everything
got boiled to make sure it was dead. So taste wasn't an issue.
She thought the green bits were poisonous.
OK, they are. But people don't get obvious acute poisoning from
them; they're mildly anticholinergic. Maybe they cause nervous
system damage in long-term consumption. And there seems to be some
association between mothers eating solanine from potatoes and their
children having neural-tube defects, but that wasn't known in the
Fifties. My gran didn't grow up surrounded by people turning blue
and dying of convulsions from not peeling their spuds right.
What would an intelligent working-class Glasgow-Irish woman of that
generation have seen as the problem? (She was officially Catholic
but had no religious impulses or superstitions that I ever noticed;
she was about as folklore-proof as Snopes).
==== j a c k at c a m p i n . m e . u k === <http://www.campin.me.uk> ====
Jack Campin, 11 Third St, Newtongrange EH22 4PU, Scotland == mob 07800 739 557
CD-ROMs and free stuff: Scottish music, food intolerance, and Mac logic fonts
****** I killfile Google posts - email me if you want to be whitelisted ******
Mrs Beeton, on page 597 of her 1880 edition of book of "The Book of
Household Management" , states: "Potatoes which have been exposed to
the air and become green are very unwholesome."

Fernie, on page 575 of his 1905 "Meals Medicnal" writes:"Young green
Potatoes, if exposed to daylight are made poisonous thereby . . ."

So the idea your grandma had was around well before her time.

Your grandma's boiling vegetables to death reminds me of my mother's
cooking. She had an obsession that roughage on vegetables caused
indigestion. So not only was everything boiled to death, but tomatoes,
broad beans and potatoes were all peeled to death. The result?
Constipation. The cure? Doses of senna tablets.

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