September 01, 2000

Not your everyday potato


istory tells us (see story, page 28) that the potato was imported to Russia as “... a fashionable product for the table of his Imperial Majesty,” Peter the Great. But, as is often the case in Russia, the imported product was sadly misunderstood: locals used just the flowers or leaves of the potato in salads, pouring lemon juice over them. The root itself was ditched. 

This held until Prince Kurakin invited Catherine I (Peter’s wife) to lunch. Back then, it was very fashionable to have foreign chefs preside over a meal, to add more variety to the menu. In this instance, Kurakin’s new French chef served Catherine what seemed an odd foreign meal – a stuffed baked potato. The empress was surprised to find that this was the same potato, with no use being made of the flowers. Catherine heartily enjoyed the meal and, highly appreciative of the “innovation,” issued an order to the Master Chef at court:

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