Jane Galloway's Potato Show

The potato's role in world history is rarely acknowledged. Actress Jane Galloway is helping to put this right with her solo show at the Edinburgh Festival.

She dramatises the colourful history of the spud; she also hands round dishes for the audience to try, including a purple potato cake from Peru, a spicy tomato casserole from Spain, and a "potage parmentier" from France.

Acting and cooking are Jane's two passions.

She has written sketches for Emma Thompson, acted from time to time, and once reached the semi-finals of "Masterchef". She has also run a small catering company. This year she brought her two careers together by writing "Potato".

The show starts with a Birmingham housewife on a voyage to Peru, where she finds potatoes, not men, sweep her off her feet. She follows the potato to Europe in 1580 with Walter Raleigh, whose attempt to introduce the potato to Britain ended in disaster when the royal chef threw away the tubers, boiled the leaves, and poisoned the court. Other key moments in the potato's history - Parmentier feeding the French army, Marie Antoinette using the flowers in her hair; the European / Irish potato famine of the 1840s; the invention of the crisp ...

Jane observes that the potato is not given much respect in Britain by the supermarkets. "Where are all the marvellous varieties? Supermarkets stock only a few and they store them for so long that they taste old".

POTATO is showing at the Edinburgh Theosophical Society, 28 Gt. King St., Edinburgh, Aug 6 - 26, 2006. Tickets - 0131 226 0000.

This summarises an article in the Daily Telegraph in July 2006.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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