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197 × 120 × 14 mm
144 pages
49 illustrations, 37 in colour
01 Apr 2011

Potato A Global History Andrew F. Smith

From its obscure pre-Columbian beginnings in South America to its global popularity today, the story of the potato is one of rags to riches. In Potato, esteemed culinary historian Andrew F. Smith reveals the captivating story of a once lowly vegetable that has changed – and continues to change – the world.

First domesticated by prehistoric people in the Andes, the potato has since been adopted by cultures all over the globe. After its discovery by Europeans, governments and monarchs encouraged the people to farm it because it was so nutritious and easy to grow, but its new position as the staple of the poor meant mass starvation in nineteenth-century Ireland when potato blight wiped out the crops. The potato was also adopted by cooks in India and in China, which is now the world’s largest potato producer.

Despite its popularity, in this era of both fast food and health consciousness, the potato is now suffering negative publicity for the very quality for which it was lauded by our forefathers: being a good source of carbohydrate. But is it fair to blame the humble spud for our habit of covering it with butter or sour cream or deep-frying it in oil?

Potato is a captivating account of the history, economy, politics and gastronomy behind this beloved tuber. Like a well-dressed baked potato, this book will both comfort and satisfy the reader.

‘Andrew F. Smith shows in Potato: A Global History, even a lowly spud packs a lot of colorful history.’ — Wall Street Journal

‘for a short, plucky introduction to a world-changing commodity, Potato certainly satisfies.’ — Anthropology Review Database

‘an entertaining and historical account of global potato production and consumption . . . contains many interesting details about potatoes, their role in history, and how various cultures have prepared them over the years.’ — Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Potato is a concise and readable history of the worlds favourite vegetable in which Andrew F Smith traces the evolution of the common potato (Solanum tuberosum) from its South American origins to the present day . . . the book would make a novel and attractive gift for the spud-enthusiast-u-like, and reading it wont turn you into a couch potato.’ — International Vegetarian Union Online News

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Andrew F. Smith teaches at the New School, New York City. He is the author or editor of 32 books, including Fast Food: The Good, the Bad and the Hungry (Reaktion, 2016).


1. The Wild and Domesticated Potato
2. The Potato Diaspora
3. The European Potato Famine
4. The Culinary Potato
5. The Commercial Potato
6. The Cultural Potato
7. The Global Potato Today and Tomorrow

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