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How the Potato Became a Staple of Our Meals as Well as Our Metaphors

As far as food-related idioms go, the potato has plentiful. And the Atlas Obscura article pares beautifully through centuries of history and geography, linguistics and economy, as it takes out the eyes, er whys, and hows behind the potato's metaphorical popularity.

Shantanu David | News18.com

Updated:February 23, 2019, 3:59 PM IST
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How the Potato Became a Staple of Our Meals as Well as Our Metaphors
Image for Representation (REUTERS)
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In the constant stream of "Breaking News" updates that floods your screens, sends you notifications and generally demand your attention, it's easy to let smaller news items slip through the cracks of your attention. And in a world filled with terrorism, Trumpisms, income inequality and other horrors, we could all use some feel-good news stories, even if we have to take out the time to look for them.

We're here to help, and will be bringing you the sweet and the unusual, stories from around the world that will help you get through the day, maybe even smile and chuckle.

Regard for a minute the humble, yet ubiquitous, potato, now a staple in many parts of the world. Apart from soil, it's also rooted in colonialism, having first cropped up as cultivar in South America nigh 13000 years ago, before being shipped to different shores as part of the Columbian Exchange, that world-changing trading anf taking of plants, animals, technologies, and ideas between the Old World, West African Coast, and the Old World during the Age of Discovery.

It became so common and commodious a commodity for much of the world, that the versatile tuber not only featured extensively in myriad cuisines but also became part of our lexicon. Ever been told to stop talking like you've a potato in your mouth, or been asked why you're being a couch potato, or been warned that your significant other plans to drop you like a hot potato? We're asking for a friend.

As far as food-related idioms go, the potato has plentiful. And the Atlas Obscura article pares beautifully through centuries of history and geography, linguistics and economy, as it takes out the eyes, er whys, and hows behind the potato's metaphorical popularity.

However, if can wedge oursevles in for a last minute, it's interesting to note that potatoes don't feature as extensively in Indian language idioms as they do in European or Mesoamerican ones, and certainly not in old Indian proverbs and muhavre we had to rote learn as students. And that's most likely because the potato didn't really take root in India until the 16th and 17th centuries, when it was first introduced to the sub-continent by the Portuguese.

But don't take our word for it. Read the full story here.
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