September 01, 2000

Tuber or Not Tuber

“Ever since the Romanovs ascended to the Russian throne, from Mikhail Fyodorovich to Nicholas I, the government has been at the forefront of education and enlightenment. The people follow along, but often lazily and half-heartedly. And it is precisely this which constitutes the strength of our autocracy.”

— Alexander Pushkin

Potatoes came to Russia long after they were a staple in the European diet. Introduction of the tuber to Russia is usually credited to Peter the Great, who became familiar with potatoes while learning the shipbuilding trade in the Netherlands, bringing back with him seeds with which to grow the plant in St. Petersburg. Another version has it that the potato came to Russia not only from the West but also from the East: via Kamchatka and Alaska, where the plant had long been locally grown.

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