Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


There are two things I loathe about cooking. The first one is cleaning up afterwards – fortunately I have a dishwasher, which does most of the work, leaving me with just the crystal glasses (when or if I use them), the cast iron pots and pans, the chicken brick to wash and the stove and kitchen top to clean. 

The second is peeling potatoes. Especially when the potatoes are of mediocre quality.

The potatoes in this photo may look fine. I bought them last Friday at our local supermarket. Their skin is nice and shiny and they are firm to the touch. They don’t show any signs of rot or other flaws. However, when I started peeling them, big black bruises showed up under skin. And they weren’t just some superficial bruises. No, they were deep and omnipresent. I ended up cutting half of the flesh away on three potatoes and throwing out two. What a waste!
They are fast cooking potatoes containing a lot of starch, making them perfect to make a ‘purée' or  mash. The mash, after I was finished with it, adding warm milk, a generous slice of Irish butter (“… the Kerrygold butter that’s so full of cream – remember this song from the TV commercial from the seventies?) and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg was creamy and spicy. The perfect topping for my ‘tranche Napolitaine’, which btw has nothing to do with ice cream! 


Susan said...

These blackspot bruises, as they are known are becoming more and more common it seems to me. Partly it's because the growing conditions have been dry the last few years, but it is also caused by rough handling in transport and the shops.

The Broad said...

It's so disappointing when you get a bag of potatoes that are bruised or damaged. Lots of reasons for bruising -- especially when they get caught in a frost -- but it's probably a bit early for that.

Jean said...

In our local Morrison's supermarket I often see the young, rather loutish staff chucking bags of vegetables about and slapping trays of salad and tomatoes on top of each other. I only shop there if I'm desperate and tend to shop at others where the goods might seem slightly more expensive but the staff treat them with respect. There's nothing more annoying than getting a bag of something and throwing a third of it away because it's damaged......the youth of today......!!

PS, I rather enjoy peeling vegetables !!

Tim said...

One thing to check.... are they actually this years harvest... or have they been kept in cold store... last year was a good potato harvest... this year has been relatively poor. Supermarkets will bag up old spuds in nice, new packaging and only close inspection of the label lets you know that they are over a year old... in which case the black staining can be caused by "sprang". Professional storage can allow potatoes to be kept for over 18 months in a sort of limbo. Once out of storage things like "sprang" that have not been dormant all that time emerge with a vengance. If there is no date of harvest, but only a date of packaging... avoid!!

Ken Broadhurst said...

I'm sorry to hear about those potatoes. I almost never have that problem with potatoes here in France. And like Jean, I enjoy peeling vegetables. But like you, I really hate having to throw out half of the vegetables I've bought because of bruises and blemishes.

Carolyn said...

Hi Martine, I hope everything is okay in your life. When you don't post, I worry a little for you. I'm wishing you and everyone you love good health and a good life.

ladybird said...

Susan, I think the handling has a lot to do with it. In this case I only got 2 meals (for 2 people) out of a 2.5 kg bag.

Kathie, No it wasn't the frost (haven't had any yet this Autumn), unless they were still of last year's crop.

Jean, I made slowly braised carrots on Sunday, and it was a joy peeling and chopping them. They tasted so good ... even raw!

Tim, Thank you for the advice. I'll closely check the dates on the bag the next time I buy potatoes. It was so much nicer in the old days, when my grandfather used to grow our potatoes.

Ken, You live in such a fertile region, with the best soil and climate to grow all kinds of veggies and potatoes. And - most important - you have your own garden ... a lot of work, but also a lot of satisfaction.

Carolyn, You are so kind. Thank you. Everybody is fine, but I'm a bit overworked right now, making long hours at the office ... When I get home, my eyes, fingers and brain are tired ... But I'll keep you posted. Promise :)