I have grown potatoes for the last four or five years. Previously, in London, I grew them in sacks. Mr P and I usually had a battle about how many tubers to place in each sack. His preference was for as many as possible, mine for about three or four. The argument was never resolved. In our last year in London, we resorted to "his and hers" potato sacks.
Last year, in 2012, I deliberately chose some unusual varieties - Sharpe's Express, Yukon Gold, and Red Fir. Of these, Red Fir probably had the most enjoyable texture and taste - waxy, and slightly sweet. But my harvest was disappointing, largely because they didn't get enough direct sunlight.
This year, I decided to strike a balance between planting some more traditional varieties and some less common ones. I bought a small bag of Shetland Blacks and Charlottes as my second earlies, then opted for a large bag of Picassos as my maincrop, since they were cheap. I planned to give most of them away to gardening friends.
Somehow, though, I never did give them away, and I ended up chitting the lot. Then, at planting time, I found myself thinking that I "shouldn't waste any," and planted them all. Ten rows of potatoes.
A few months later, and my veg patch resembles a potato city.
Although I much prefer rice to potatoes, I now find myself cooking potatoes with most meals. One or two end up in every soup and salad. I plan meals for visitors based on how many potatoes I can cook (and get rid of). I give them away as presents. I will probably be giving them as Christmas presents, or trading them on e-bay for dahlia tubers. Recently, when I started reading Sarah Raven's The Great Veg Plot, I realised I had already grasped the sense in her advice to grow only what you most enjoy eating.
Mr P, though, is a happy possum. His grandfather grew potatoes on the family farm in Lancashire, and each family member has their own favourite way of preparing and eating potatoes. The topic inevitably comes up at Sunday lunch, when the family are tucking into roast potatoes. Roasters usually top the list, but dauphinois and mash are also firm favourites.
Mr P's favourite way is a dish I taught him, and which he now cooks himself every so often, usually with a curry, or as a spicy accompaniment to roast meat - Potatoes with cumin. The recipe can be found in the Recipes section.
Finally, feedback on this year's choice. The Shetland Blacks are a delightful colour - a strong, deep purple. I was childishly disappointed to discover that once boiled, their colour disappears into the water. They are a floury potato, so perhaps better for mashing. The Charlottes are yummy and good for boiling, mashing and roasting. The Picassos are also nice.