You wouldn't relate Wodka to the history of potatoes of Germany. Or would you? It was the famous King of Prussia Frederic II Friedrich der Grosse who set the ball rolling in 1745. He made a law which became history.
That royal German verdict meant that every farmer had to cultivate at least 10% of his land with potatoes from then on. Eventually, white potato blooms graced huge areas around the town of Magdeburg which is not far from the German capital Berlin.
The biggest obstacle in the early German history of potatoes were centuries of farming habits. Now, the third year of skipping land cultivation was to be ignored because of a stubborn old king. The funny Peruvian root was to be planted.
Consequently, the quality of the potato became better and better. The crop which originated from the Andes mountains of the Incas became the most important part of the German diet besides bread.
Easy potato storage came as another surprise. The South American night shadow roots lasted for many months in cool and airy residential cellars, after people bought them cheap in bulk after the harvests.
By the way, one of first German provinces which cultivated potatoes outside Prussia was Franken.
Russians called the potato spirits Wodka which means little water. Fire water would have been more appropriate. However, the production of this strong Aqua vitae which also means Brandy was only possible on a large scale after the invention of a sophisticated distilling apparatus.
This was the Pistorius distiller. It was named after the German Johann Heinrich Leberecht Pistorius (1777-1858). This Wodka or Kartoffelschnaps in German was a beverage of high alcohol content of as much as 40%. First it was only allowed to be drunk by the high society. Later it became available to all because of an abundance of bars. It was also handled as part of wages, sometimes. Needless to say is that alcoholism and social problems followed, until a high tax helped to remedy the problem somewhat, later in the XIX and XX century.
Kartoffelschnaps is the new trendy brand of beverage in Germany which seems to sell better than Wodka, now in the twenty first Millenium, However, it's still made with the good old potato. Also, one excuse for drinking it is that it may help digestion after sumptuous big meals.
From history of potatoes back to potato history which is all about the papas of Tenerife and a farm called Hacienda La Pared.
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