Hot Potato: The History of Hachis Parmentier

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Hot Potato: The History of Hachis Parmentier

Author and French cookery expert Mardi Michels reveals that the French were rather slow to embrace the humble spud, considering it only good for animal fodder.

Hachis (the “h” and the “s” are silent) Parmentier is a classic French comfort-food dish popular the world over (and known as Shepherd’s Pie in the English-speaking world) but do you know the origin behind its name? The word “parmentier” is used to refer to any dish prepared with potatoes. These dishes are named for pharmacist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (1737-1813) who spent his life promoting the potato, having learned of their nutritional value when he was a prisoner of war in Germany. Determined to change public opinion about the humble spud – the French viewed potatoes as only fit for animal consumption, he began to grow potatoes in and around Paris.

In fact, in 1773, he even won a prize for showcasing the potato as a useful crop in the event of a famine. Slowly but surely, public opinion began to turn in favour of pommes de terre (no doubt helped along by the fact that potato crops in Paris were “guarded” by the army – making them seem like an in-demand commodity). Parmentier spent his life educating the masses about potatoes – how to grow them and, crucially, how to prepare them. He even catered a dinner for Benjamin Franklin at Les Invalides where the menu consisted of only potato-based dishes (a surefire way to instill confidence in the public!). Who would have imagined that such a staple had such a troubled rise to popularity?

From France Today magazine

Hungry for more?

For Mardi’s hachis Parmentier recipe, visit Taste of France, via this link.

Purchase the Taste of France magazine here, your French foodie bible packed with 50+ recipes, features and foodie insights.

Photo © Unsplash, Monika Grabkowska

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Comments

  • Sharon Bacon
    2020-05-13 22:55:45
    Sharon Bacon
    my favorite French meal. Pork with Pommes en l'air and Pommes en bas. Such a cute way to describe these side dishes.

    REPLY

  • Nikki Moranville
    2020-05-13 20:26:53
    Nikki Moranville
    I have tried to order the magazine Taste of France, but I am American and apparently they don't take dollars for payment. Makes me very sad.

    REPLY

    • Malisa Kelly
      2020-06-11 11:23:01
      Malisa Kelly
      Hi Nikki, I hope you are well and thank you for your question. To convert the GBP currency to USD, you will see the option to do so in the right-hand corner of this page. You will need to convert the currency before heading onto the payment/check out page, if you have any further questions please enquire to [email protected] Kind regards, - France Today, digital marketing assistant.

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      • Nikki Moranville
        2020-11-18 19:02:53
        Nikki Moranville
        Thank you for your perfect instructions, Malisa! I have done exactly as you explained and should be getting my email confirmation shortly! I certainly appreciate your kind help.

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        • Malisa Kelly
          2020-11-19 11:58:23
          Malisa Kelly
          Hi Nikki, I hope you've been well! Thank you for updating me with your kind feedback, I'm glad that everything went as instructed. Enjoy your purchase! Kind regards, Malisa

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    • S Macgill
      2020-05-30 15:56:03
      S Macgill
      Why would they take American $$ Would the US take payment in Euros or previously in francs? A credit card payment in Euros will be converted by your credit card to American $. Hope this helps you get the magazine.

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  • J.J. LASNE
    2020-05-13 20:13:15
    J.J. LASNE
    Same happened to corn. When I left France, there was no corn available for human consumption, only for cattle. When I returned after 13 years, one could find corn, especially in salads.

    REPLY