Saturday, October 21

Potatofest 2006: Vacation Breakfasts and the Hard Labour of Harvest

First up in this weekend's edition of Potatofest, we have a recipe from Kim of Hireath for DYI “Cook Shanty” Fried Potatoes. And while your potatoes bake, why not take my potato poll?

Have you ever thought about the vocabulary of the potato harvest? There are several commonly used terms to describe what we do when we take the mature potatoes from the soil. I've always said I'm digging potatoes (and I'm not alone in describing it this way), but more commonly, I think, it's called picking potatoes.

I'm guessing this last term is used mostly when the potatoes are collected after some sort of machinery has already turned the soil over, when the term digging wouldn't quite describe what's being done. When I was in elementary school, some of the children made quite a bit of money picking potatoes, and it seems it's labour children have done down through the ages. (Mark Knopfler, by the way, has a song called Picking Potatoes that's part of the sound track to the movie Cal. You can hear a bit of it here. It's got a nice Irish sound to go with the potato theme.)

Van Gogh, if you remember, called it lifting potatoes, as in Peasants Lifting Potatoes and Woman Lifting Potatoes, which is the picture at the top left. (You can click on the photo for the larger view, and it's worth it to do that.) To tell you the truth, lifting potatoes doesn't seem to be a term that is commonly used in the English language nowadays, although my dictionary does give this definition for lift: to take up (as a root crop...) from the ground.

When I harvest my carrots, I say that I pull them, and some people use the word pull to describe how they harvest potatoes as well. Here's a photo of children pulling potatoes.

And of course, there's always the more general term: harvesting potatoes. This term seems to be used more often when big farm machinery is used.

Now it's your turn. Take this potato pickin' poll, and we'll all find out a little about the potato harvesting vocabulary of the readers here.

What do you call taking mature potatoes from the ground?
lifting potatoes
pulling potatoes
digging potatoes
picking potatoes
harvesting potatoes
other, and I'll leave my answer in the comments
Free polls from

Why don't you contribute something to Potatofest? Everyone has something to say about potatoes, don't they? Post something potato related on your blog
  • a potato recipe
  • a potato photo
  • a potato joke
  • a quote about potatoes
  • a story about potatoes
  • a tip for a unique way to use potatoes
  • a piece of potato art
  • a potato quiz
  • you name it--if it's about potatoes, it belongs at Potatofest
and leave the link in the comments or email it to me. I'll link to your potato link (or links) sometime during the month of Potatofest. If you don't have a blog, or feel you don't want to clutter up your blog with potato drivel, then leave your recipe, joke--you name it--in the comments and I'll work it into a post sometime during the month. Somewhere, somehow, I'll even include things as simple as a comment on your favorite way to eat potatoes, or your favorite variety of potatoes.