Spinach and Mushroom Baked Potatoes
Column and photos by Ali Carter, Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary
During a sleepless night not too long ago, I randomly wondered about the origins of the baked potato. I’m told this is an odd thing for one to Google at 2 a.m., but I learned some interesting tidbits in those early morning hours.
According to historian Andrew Martin, it is difficult to narrow down one exact person in time who came up with the delicious idea.
Martin writes, “There is no known specific ‘a-ha’ moment when the baked potato was ‘invented.’”
He continues, “The simplicity of the tuber roasting in the embers of a fire or the back of an oven was incredibly rudimentary and likely to have been around far longer than we might imagine. Given its popularity in various regions of the world, it would be difficult to pinpoint exactly who had the initial idea.”
Martin says that, in England, the baked potato has been a common food for centuries.
“At one time in the 19th century, they were hawked by street vendors, especially ‘selling like hotcakes’ in the colder months, which coincided with their harvesting schedule,” he explains.
“Buyers used the spuds as convenient hand warmers by stuffing the piping hot ‘jacket potatoes’ in their coat pockets for warmth before ultimately eating them,” Martin notes. “It was once estimated that 10 tons of baked potatoes were sold daily in London at the height of this craze.”
Here is our family’s latest version of the baked potato. This one is loaded with fresh baby spinach and meaty mushrooms, then topped with a bit of creamy feta.