Monday, May 10, 2010
All Hail Parmentier
If you like your pommes frites, pommes Anna, pommes Dauphinoise, aligot, even the humble puree, you really must thank Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, public health guru, nutritionist, and pharmacist, who finally, in 1772, convinced the French that potatoes were suitable for humans, not just hogs. And look at the results. In fact, what would French cuisine be without the potato? The last time I ate out, there were potatoes in my main course and even in my salad. And of course, his name is permanently associated with the French version of shepherd's pie known as hachis Parmentier.
In addition to the street bearing his name, which cuts through a wide swath of the 10th and 11th arrondissement and a stop on Métro line 3, the French also pay hommage to Parmentier by visiting his grave site at Père Lachaise. When I was there last week, there were some fresh tubers placed on his tomb.