Random French Potato Facts:
- Originated in America but came to France in 1785, thanks to Antoine Parmentier who introduced them to King Louis XVI at Versailles; Hachis Parmentier is the name given to the French classic equivalent of cottage pie;
- According to the French Ministry of Agriculture, France is the 3rd biggest producer of potatoes in Europe and 10th biggest in the world;
- Potatoes are always cooked. Most of France’s crops are transformed into potato chips (UK: crisps), frites (French fries, UK: chips), dried purée flakes, and potato starch for thickening soups, sauces & patisserie;
- Most popular varieties in France are: la Charlotte, Ratte, l’Amandine, Belle de Fontenay, Monalisa, Roseval, Annabelle, Franceline and Vitelotte (purple);
- For top quality potatoes, look for the Label Rouge, certifying good quality: you’ll find them with Pompadour, Belle de Fontenay, Manon, Merville (Bintje).
- New potatoes (pomme de terre primeur) from the Île de Noirmoutier are reputed for their sweetness and contain double amounts of Vitamin C as regular potatoes. About 25 producers from the ‘island’ harvest potatoes from mid-April after only 90 days following plantation (compared to 120 for other varieties) and sold within 72 hours.
- It’s best to store potatoes in a cool, dark place. Never put them in the fridge.
Fun French Expression Using Potatoes
“J’ai une de ces patates” or “j’ai la patate”
means I’m full of energy, full of beans (literally translated, I’ve one of these potatoes or I’ve a potato)
For new potatoes (pomme de terre primeur/nouvelle): Spring; Summer (May-August);
Generally for the rest, all year round;
What French Potatoes are Best for Cooking?
- Firm potatoes such as Charlotte (THE multi-purpose potato), Ratte, l’Amandine, Belle de Fontenay, Monalisa, Roseval (red skin), Annabelle, Franceline are all good for gratins, stews (daubes, ragoûts) and in salads;
- Floury potatoes such as Bintje – produced in the north of France since 1935 this is the most floury potato and ideal for purées, blending in soups, and in patties such as these fishcakes. Also used to make French fries or chips (frites). Other floury potatoes: Manon, l’Artemis, Marabel.
- New Potatoes (pommes de terre primeur), such as those from l’Île de Ré and Noirmoutier, are best cooked as soon as possible after buying them – with their thin skins left on (cleaned). Depending on their size, cook in a little water and, as soon as cooked through, toss in a knob of butter, salt, pepper and fresh parsley.
Recipes with Potatoes