Lesson 66: The Potato Story (Level 2+)

The Inca Indians of Peru prized the potato as food. When they first started growing potatoes 10,000 years ago in the high, cold Andes Mountains, they were small, about the size of lemons, and full of lumps and bumps.

The potato is a part of an underground stem known as a tuber. When a group of Spanish explorers, led by Francisco Pizzaro discovered the Inca culture about 1553, they also discovered the potato. Pizzaro carried some potatoes back home, “anything that looks like that, with bumps and lumps, must carry disease,” was the general thought. Back then, before microscopes let people look at bacteria and viruses, all sorts of strange things were thought to cause illness.

Seafaring adventurer Sir Francis Drake presented Queen Elizabeth 1 with these newly discovered potatoes. The royal cooks took one look at them and decided that couldn’t be the portion anyone would want to eat. So they threw the tuber out, and served the stems and leaves instead. The leaves can make you ill. You can guess why potatoes were banned from the court for several hundred years.

Potatoes contain calcium, phosphorus, and potassium in addition to Vitamin C.

There are at least 100 potato varieties.  Over 300 million tons of potatoes are grown each year.

How long have potato chips been around? They were invented in the late 1800s in New York by a hotel chef. A customer told him that the fried potatoes being served were too thick. Tired of complaints, the chef decided to slice the potatoes paper thin. He then fried them until they were crisp and golden.

The fussy customer liked them and so did the rest of the world.

A) Vocabulary: Read the underlined words in the text.  Look at the definitions of the words  given below. Now make imaginative sentences of your own with them.

Prize (verb)- value highly, appreciate greatly
Tuber– The thick, underground part of a stem
Microscope– A scientific instrument which makes small objects look bigger
Bacteria– Very small organisms. Some bacteria can cause disease
Virus– a tiny germ that can infect animal and plants and make them ill
Seafaring– (of a person) regularly travelling by sea
Ban (verb)- to prohibit or forbid
Complaint– (Noun) A statement that you are unhappy or not satisfied with something
Fussy– hard to satisfy or please

B) Discussion points:

  1. On the Internet, please look at a map of the world. On which continent is Peru?
  2. List five facts about the Andes.
  3. What did you discover about the Incas from the Internet?
  4. What is your favourite vegetable and why?
  5. Write down a simple recipe using this vegetable.
  6. Can you name some other tubers?
  7. Can you name the nutrients in tomatoes?

C) Plurals– What is the plural form of these vegetables and fruits?

1 potato- 2 potatoes
1 carrot- 2 ?
1 onion- 2 ?
1 apple- 2 ?
1 orange- 2 ?
1 tomato- 2?