Despite its name, the sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, is not botanically related to the common white potato, Solanum tuberosum.1 This sweet oval tuberous root was eaten in Europe well before the true potato. Rumor has it that King Henry VIII could eat an incredible quantity of sweet potato pie in one sitting, in the belief that it could induce courage. The Tudors in England also considered the sweet potato to be an aphrodisiac. When Sir John Falstaff greeted Mistress Ford with “Let the sky rain potatoes” in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, he was referring to sweet potatoes (Thomas and Faircloth 2014). Imagine the lovesick Falstaff fantasizing about a sweet potato shower in his day! Whatever the effectiveness of the sweet and starchy tuber as an amorous stimulant, Falstaff’s expression introduced it as a delicious luxury in the same class as delicate confections....
The Bittersweet Potato in the Taiwanese Imagination
Shang-Huei Liang was born and raised in Taiwan. She earned a BA in Literature from National Taiwan University and an MA in Art History from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her writing has appeared in The Art Newspaper China and Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art.
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Shang-Huei Liang; The Bittersweet Potato in the Taiwanese Imagination. Gastronomica 1 May 2021; 21 (2): 65–70. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2021.21.2.65
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