Ode to a Green Potato

O, Humble spud! the immigrant pride of Eire;
Sustenance for mortals, rich or poor.
Fish accompanist and comfort bearer,
Friend to cheese and meat and eggs and more.
Adopted vegetable of the Emerald Isle,
The finest food the world has ever seen!
Yet how the irony doth make me smile,
Thou art so dangerous when thou art green!

© 2017 ARF

O, prátaí íseal! bród imirceach Eire;
bia do dhaoine, saibhir nó bochta.
Éinitheoir agus iompróir chompord,
Cairde le cáise agus feoil agus uibheacha agus níos mó.
Glasraí uchtaithe d’Éirinn,
An bia is fearr a fheiceann an domhan riamh!
Ach conas doth an íoróin a dhéanamh dom aoibh gháire,
Tá tú chomh contúirteach nuair a bhíonn tú glas!

Solanine poisoning is primarily displayed by gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, cardiac dysrhythmia, nightmares, headache, dizziness, itching, eczema, thyroid problems, inflammation and pain in the joints.

Be aware that a spud can do all that and the green does not always show.

If in doubt, chuck it out.

This has been a public service announcement.

It may be worth repeating that the green does not always show out. Although the conditions that produce solanine are similar to those that produce chlorophyll, the two are not directly related.  Solanine biosynthesis occurs parallel but independent of chlorophyll biosynthesis; each can occur without the other.  Unlike chlorophyll, light is not specifically  necessary for solanine formation but does substantially promote it.  Tropical temperatures, such as we have here in the Kimberley, definitely increase the risk. Greening and solanine production will not occur at lower temperatures, so in the tropics, keeping potatoes in the dark may not be enough. Keep them in the refrigerator.   Snopes claims that it is unlikely you will be made ill by green potatoes.  Other sources I have researched state it is far more likely than most people realise. My opinion has now been swayed towards the latter by bitter experience.

I spent the week in Halls Creek attending a block course for my Cert IV Training and Assessment. I ate with friends each meal, and on Wednesday evening Tika and I both ordered the rump steak with baked potato baked in the skin with sour cream and coleslaw.  That night I was very ill.  I suspected the potato.  I suspected intoxication because the onset of symptoms was very sudden, less than 6 hours after the suspect meal. I suspected the potato because  I had commented at the time on its  texture and an unusual flavour.  I should have known better than to eat it all anyway.  Of the symptoms listed above I suffered 9 out of 14, if you count a rasping cough as burning of the throat. My diagnosis hypothesis is supported, if not confirmed.  I did not take samples for analysis because having no control at either end, I was in the shower until I could safely cough without an equal and opposite reaction.

And let me tell you that the toxin – whatever the source was – made my arthritis more painful by a factor of ten.

The clues I ignored were the soggy texture and slightly translucent appearance of the cooked potato flesh and a vaguely bitter flavour partly masked by sour cream, salt and pepper. Though I commented on it, I did not reject the spud. My mistake. I don’t blame the restaurant. They probably could not tell. The steak was excellent and the coleslaw very good. It was just bad luck.

The good news is that symptoms lasted less than 18 hours. and appear to include anorexia, because I have not eaten very much in the 3 days since.

Author: Uisce úr

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.

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