At first glance, nothing more prosaic than potatoes could be invented. But the history of this root crop goes back more than five thousand years. There have been ups and downs in it. He did not even get the usual name "potato" at once, for a long time it was called "earthen apple".
How potatoes appeared in Europe
Initially, Europeans considered potatoes to be a mushroom after seeing how the Indians of South America dug up its tubers. Since the shape of the potatoes was similar to the already known truffle, they were considered relatives.
The root crop came to Europe in the 16th century. The Spaniards were the first to try it, but they did not make a special impression on them, because they did not know how to cook it correctly. From Spain, the potatoes moved to Italy, where they called them "tartufolli", and from there they got to Belgium. There he was mistaken for an ornamental plant and planted in greenhouses. A little later, he reached Prussia. There, the Prussian king issued a decree on the forced cultivation of potatoes, which saved the Germans from starvation during the war of 1758-1763. After a while, the potatoes reached France.
Why potatoes were called "earthen apple"
The potato in France has been encountered as an ornamental plant. Its purple flowers were used to decorate hairstyles and clothing. The French turned their attention to tubers much later. Since all fruits and vegetables of a round shape were traditionally associated with an apple, the potato was called an "earthy apple" and was considered poisonous. The French doctors stubbornly insisted on this, claiming that the "earthen apple" is the carrier of leprosy and the cause of the clouding of the mind. Scientists, however, did not agree with the doctors, but considered that the potatoes are rude for French stomachs. It began to be used in food only a hundred years later, with the light hand of the Parisian agronomist and pharmacist Antoine Auguste Parmentier.
Now in his homeland you can see a monument erected to a pharmacist, on which the inscription "To the Benefactor of Humanity" is carved. And the French culinary experts immortalized the name of Parmentier himself in the recipe for mashed potato soup, calling it "Parmentier soup".
In Russia, potatoes were called exactly the same as in France - "earthen apple". It was cooked exclusively as a rare delicacy and ate with sugar at palace banquets.
Later they began to call it potatoes. The Belgian de Sevry gave the plant the name "tartuffle" for its resemblance to a truffle. In Germany, this word was transformed into "Kartoffeln", and since Russia at that time was strongly focused on Germany, the Russian name came precisely from the German one, having slightly changed in the process. This is how the new name for the "earthen apple" appeared - "potato".