Essential Reading

I don’t read enough, apparently.
I don’t do a lot of things enough, according to some people. They like to judge me by their lifestyles and can’t understand why I don’t read enough, watch movies or spend every Saturday morning at a hipster market. I don’t think that I don’t read enough, I just think that I don’t read as much as they read. And that’s an altogether different thing. By the same criteria, they don’t blog enough. I’m just saying.

Anyway, maybe “I don’t read enough” because the stuff that’s out there to read isn’t very good. (I did make it through this abridged version of Grey last night though, so, you know, be proud of me.) But now, I have discovered this:

The History and Social Influence of the Potato (Cambridge Paperback Library) Redcliffe N. Salaman, J. G. Hawkes 9780521316231 Books - Google Chrome 2015-06-23 010416 PM.bmp

Redcliffe banged the original version out in 1949, but it was this 1985 revised impression which took the proverbial biscuit, thanks in part to the input from renowned potato scholar and Emeritus Professor of Plant Biology at the University of Birmingham, J.G. Hawkes, and – many believe – the additional chapter on INDUSTRIAL USES by W.G Burton.

This is a book filled with facts and figures:

The History and Social Influence of the Potato (Cambridge Paperback Library) Redcliffe N. Salaman, J. G. Hawkes 9780521316231 Books - Google Chrome 2015-06-23 011615 PM.bmp

But being of scientific bent, that’s just fine by me. Facts and figures are my bread and butter. Although, being that this magnificent tome was first published in the 40s, there is a certain dated style of language. I find it intriguing that Salaman borrowed descriptions from other crops though; the extent of cereal crops, for example, was always described as, say, the area “under wheat”. Quite how he got away with “under potatoes”, this being a subterranean crop, is rather beyond me.

It’s these sort of foibles that intrigue me and, despite the somewhat extravagant cost, I’m going to be reading all about spuds and how they’ve affected all of our lives, very shortly.


Remember Ireland in 1845? No. Neither do I.

However, at about 1745 this evening, I was at a local supermarket. Things were going well. Alex had enjoyed the journey there, boogie’ing away in his car seat to the energetic (yet somewhat inappropriate) Smack My Bitch Up by the Prodigy* and was now happily sat in the trolley, nibbling a chunk of biltong. Life was good.

And then – down the snacks aisle, right next to the puffs, this:

Potato Shortage

I have to admit, this was a new one on me. We’ve had shortages of oil here, which led to shortages of petrol and widespread panic buying. Been there, done that back in the UK. We had a lack of glass that almost meant they couldn’t make beer bottles. That was very worrying. We even ran out of carbon dioxide (yes, really!) which led to a scarcity of fizzy beverages. We soldiered on through (though strangely, Seth Rotherham seemed irrationally alarmed by the news of a Coke shortage).

But a shortage of chips really is a true cause for concern.

Immediately, I thought this must be a callous marketing ploy by the supermarket in question in order to raise the price of any available chips by preying on the minds of innocent chip-purchasing shoppers. There was only one way to find out – the leaders in South African potato news and information: Potatoes South Africa.
It’s where we all get our potato-related information over here. Sample quote:

They may not be celebrities, but potatoes certainly get their share of media attention. Read about how potatoes are profiled in the press, the news they generate by just being themselves, and who to contact for more information if you are one of our media friends.

I may have missed something here. Not that I’m a big reader, but are the pages of Hello, OK and the pisspoor South African You/HuisGenoot really packed full with our starchy friends sunbathing on foreign beaches, partying with some European royal or flashing their bits as they exit a sports car?
Can a potato really generate news by “just being itself”?

Surely not.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the great Cape Town potato shortage. It seems that the hastily-printed fluttering A4 warnings were all true. Not a single potato arrived in Cape Town today. Just look at that terrifyingly empty CPT column. Even SPG got more than us. SPG**, of all places!!!

It’s going to be a long, cold, chipless winter***.
I fear that increasing my beer consumption may be the only way to keep my carbohydate levels up.

Oh well. Needs must.

* 6000 miles… does not advocate smacking your (or anyone else’s) bitch up.
** No, I have no clue. Sorry.
*** Once we’re through our long, hot, chipless summer and long, mild, chipless autumn, obviously.