Friday, 15 July 2011
I have been living in this fair country for going on 10 ½ years and in all that time there is one thing I can’t quite understand. I would even go as far as to say it’s a downright bloody mystery to me. That mystery is the jacket (or baked, depending on side of the Atlantic you are on), potato!
In all seriousness I just don’t get whey they are everywhere, doesn’t matter what eating establishment you are in there is bound to be a jacket potato on the menu somewhere. Okay, perhaps Jamie or Gordon don't have them in their restaurants. I have even been aboard and see baked potato stands in English touristy hotspots. As if you can’t leave old Blighty for a week or so without getting your potato fix.
Now I am not a potato hater, in fact I am quite partial to a spud or two and back in NZ we do have baked potatoes, mainly as a meal accompaniment (with just butter on top) or done on the coals of a BBQ. But what I really don't understand is the allure of a potato, baked to within an inch of its life, covered in a variety of toppings, pawn cocktail anyone? I just don’t get it. I can count on one hand, no actually two fingers the number of baked potatoes I have had in my time here. What did I think of them, well they were okay but it wasn’t a culinary masterpiece or even a delight. While working it was a much debated topic between myself and a good friend T, who is a bit of a foodie. While she could see it merits as a healthy lunch option I couldn’t, so would try all I could to negate the argument, “baked potato, might as well get chips!”
So to try and find why the fascination for the baked potato I went over to the ever reliable Wiki and apparently...
“The baked potato has been popular in the UK for many years. In the mid-19th century, jacket potatoes were sold on the streets by hawkers during the autumn and winter months. In London, it was estimated that some 10 tons of baked potatoes were sold each day by this method. Common jacket potato fillings (or "toppings") in the United Kingdom include cheese & beans, tuna mayonnaise, chili con carne and chicken & bacon.
Guy Fawkes Night was a traditional time to eat baked potatoes, often baked in the glowing embers of a bonfire, however this is no longer common and they are eaten at any time of the year. As part of the upsurge for healthier fast food, the baked potato has again taken to the streets of the UK both in mobile units and restaurants.”
So perhaps a culinary delight it is not supposed to be. Perhaps it is just one of those crazy English traditions that I will never quite understand!