Thursday, April 11, 2013

How to Make Potato Blood.

Some time ago we talked about Potato Cheese, which at the time seemed a greatly intriguing thing to me. I have discovered some old ideas for the potato which are new to me, and may be to you, too. I found them in The Journal of Agriculture, an English publication from 1835.

I shall now proceed to lay before you some of its uses which are less obvious and more seldom described. …
In some parts of Germany potatoes are put to another use. The lower classes are accustomed to incorporate them, after being steamed and reduced to a paste, with the butter to be spread over bread. It thus goes farther where economy is studied: and that it may longer be preserved, is often salted.
It will surprise many to learn, that a mode has been suggested by a French chemist for converting potatoes into a substance resembling coffee. He mixes some best olive-oil with a certain portion of dried potato-flour, and then adds a small quantity of coffee-powder. He asserts that this will produce a liquor more agreeable than coffee.
Chemical ingenuity has likewise converted this most useful root into substitutes for many other articles … An imitation chocolate is made on the same principles as the imitation coffee; and a kind of mock-vermicelli on the same principles as the mock-tapioca. …… also brandy, beer, treacle.

… I may close the catalogue by an account taken from a work published in 1710, upon the virtues of herbs. The author, after mentioning that potatoes make very good food for man, either boiled, baked, or roasted, when eaten with good butter, salt, juice of oranges or lemons, and double refined sugar, then goes on to speak of the virtues of what he calls the blood of potatoes. For the mode of preparing this valuable ingredient, he refers his readers to the description of the method of extracting a similar blood from parsnips. After reducing them to a pulp, he mixes them with crumbs of white bread, and sprinkles them with white port wine: after sundry distillations (which need not be recited here), "the matter is changed," says he, "into a rubicund or bloody chyle." This is to be forced out strongly with a press, and the juice exposed to a variety of operations, " till the blood becomes quite clear, and of a most perfect red.'' "From this," he continues, "you may, if you please, separate, by an alembic, a thin and clear liquor, so you have remaining in the bottom the blood of potatoes of a very glorious colour; It hath all the properties of the roots boiled, baked, Toasted, or made into bread, puddings, or broth. It invigorates to a strange degree." "The potato-blood," he says, "may be taken with good effect, a spoonful or two morning, noon, and night, in a glass of choice Canary, Malaga, or other good wines.”

The phrase “potato blood” was also used disparagingly to refer to the Irish as in:  “English meat-eaters … appeared favourably in contrast to feeble Indian vegetarians and Irishmen with sluggish'potato blood'.”

I must, of course, give you a potato recipe for the day. Here are a couple of ideas from a little piece called Irish Economy from the Housewife’s Daily Economy Calendar in The Washington Post of November 4, 1913:
Of course, potatoes did not originate in Ireland, but for some reason the Irish became their staunchest advocates and it is to the housewives of the Emerald Isle that we must look for the most toothsome way of cooking and serving them.
Some Irish Recipes.
Mash four good-sized potatoes and mix in a lump of butter. Butter a baking pan and fill it with three or five alternate layers each of mashed potatoes and bread crumbs. Beat up an egg with a little milk, salt and pepper, and add. Bake for about 20 minutes.
Potato puffs begin with mashed potatoes seasoned with butter, and mixed with half a cupful of milk and one, or two beaten eggs. The mixture should be beaten very light. Have a pan of deep fat at a good frying temperature and drop the mixture into the fat and brown a light brown.


Shay said...

That disparaging "potato blood" comment reminds me of an insult that dates back to pre WWI here (US). Calling someone a macaroni-eater, ie Italian, thus implying that they ate wimpy starches instead of red meat.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Shay - yes, I can think of a few others too. Sad reflection on the human race, isnt it?