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Series P: Plants

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Alexander Howard
1305369.  Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:28 pm Reply with quote

In the 'Plants' episode, of which the XL version was broadcast tonight, Sandi says that potatoes were once considered dangerous aphrodisiacs. That was the sweet-potato; the vegetable has suggestive shape, so it was assumed to improve those regions. In Shakespeare's day, the word 'potato' primarily meant the sweet-potato, which was better known in England than the humble spud, and the alleged aphrodisiac qualities are alluded to in The Merry Wives of Windsor, when the Bard has Falstaff say:

Quote:
My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain
potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of Green
Sleeves, ...

 
suze
1305370.  Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:34 pm Reply with quote

The white potato (American sources often call it the "Irish potato" if they wish to avoid confusion with the sweet potato, much as this is horribly wrong) was often considered poisonous in those days. That's partly because it isn't very good for you raw, and partly because it grew underground which was considered an untrustworthy sort of thing for a vegetable to do.

Sweet potatoes could not be grown in Europe, so people here didn't know that they too were tubers. They are grown in Europe now, but in fairly small quantities; I think Kent may be Europe's largest producer of them. This meant that they were expensive and only for the rich. Henry VIII is known to have been a fan.

Only in Ireland and Spain was the white potato considered as suitable for human consumption before about 1700. But once the landed classes had realised how easy and cheap they were to grow, they soon encouraged their tenant farmers to grow them and to subsist on them.

So yes, I think Alexander has this about right.

 
dr.bob
1305537.  Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:35 am Reply with quote

It's a long accepted tenet of QI research that literally anything has, at one time or another, been considered an aphrodisiac, if you look hard enough :)

 
DVD Smith
1305565.  Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:27 pm Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
It's a long accepted tenet of QI research that literally anything has, at one time or another, been considered an aphrodisiac, if you look hard enough :)


I think "looking hard" is what they wanted the aphrodisiac for in the first place...

 
dr.bob
1305635.  Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:22 am Reply with quote

Badum-tish!

 

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