French flavour

The Daily Telegraph - Gardening - - Front Page -

What’s so spe­cial about French pota­toes? As with most French food, the em­pha­sis is on flavour – va­ri­eties sim­ply don’t last long if they don’t taste good. Heft and disease re­sis­tance come a very dis­tant sec­ond.

It’s also partly cul­tural – pota­toes are seen as a bright, plea­sur­able pres­ence on the plate rather than edi­ble bal­last, some­thing to fill up on, and the pop­u­lar French va­ri­eties re­flect that.

Pota­toes di­vide semi-tidily into two camps: the early, largely salad va­ri­eties, and the later, of­ten flourier types.

The first camp ac­counts for 80 per cent or more of my po­tato patch, largely be­cause they per­form as if some­one lis­tened to all our gar­den­ing whinges and in­vented early pota­toes in re­sponse.

They give you the most flavour and the finest tex­ture, and you get them cheaply: shop-bought ear­lies can be wildly ex­pen­sive and the flavour of home-grown salad pota­toes eaten soon af­ter lift­ing is – as with as­para­gus, sweet­corn and peas – of a dif­fer­ent or­der to even the best you can buy.

More im­por­tantly, grow­ing your own gives you ac­cess to the most de­li­cious va­ri­eties, largely not avail­able in the shops.

Ear­lies are largely trou­ble-free too, be­ing planted, grown and har­vested be­fore mid­sum­mer when the warm weather that en­cour­ages blight ar­rives.

Once pota­toes are lifted, the space is freed in time to plant out cour­gettes, squash or what­ever you fancy to take its place. In

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