The potato is magical, this much is clear.
The potato was brought over to Europe from South America in the 16th century. At first, it wasn’t eaten. It was assumed that the potato, like the plant, was poisonous. Slowly, over the course of the 18th century, eating potatoes became customary. Potatoes offered an affordable solution to malnutrition and scurvy.
Potatoes have long since had a reputation as a simple foodstuff. As such, they represent ordinary people. The Potato Riots were caused in part by the close connection between the potato and Dutch identity. The women didn’t want to serve rice. Additionally, the potato shortage symbolised a general shortage of food among poor citizens. Often there was no food at all, not even bread or rice. Well-off citizens, on the other hand, had enough to eat, even during World War I.
Since the women of the Eastern islands and the Jordaan were the first to sound the alarm, I find it fascinating how, in this story, the potato became a symbol for both identity and class inequality, as well as feminism.
Molenaardappelen in Haarlem gave me a big bag of potato peels. From these peels, I am making paper. The paper will form the basis for collages of archival material, sourced from the Stadsarchief (City Archive).