King George IV (1820-1830)
The Greeks, the Governor and the Potatoes : John Kapodistrias had an instinct for how a long-oppressed people might think.
The Greeks, the Governor and the Potatoes

Thanks to Η ιστορία της πατάτας at Σαν Σήμερα.

The man chosen by the Greeks in 1827 to lead a newly liberated Greek nation, John Kapodistrias, did much to address problems of industry and education, but on his first arrival he had a more pressing issue: food.

SIR Walter Raleigh is said to have introduced potatoes to Elizabethan England, and Antoine-Augustin Parmentier is synonymous with their cultivation in 18th century France. In the case of Greece, the credit must go to John Kapodistrias, the country’s first Head of State following the revolution of 1821.

When he arrived in his temporary capital, Nafplion, in 1828, after a distinguished career in the Russian diplomatic service, he found a country that four centuries of Turkish occupation had left dispirited, bankrupt and hungry.

Following Parmentier’s lead, the new Governor saw potatoes as the answer, and left piles of them for Greek farmers to take away and plant in their empty fields. The farmers, however, suspecting some trick, would not touch them.

So Kapodistrias placed the piles of unwanted potatoes under armed guard.

The farmers now suspected the potatoes were a delicacy reserved for the rich, and began to steal them while the guards pretended not to notice. Soon, not a single one was left.

Thanks to Η ιστορία της πατάτας at Σαν Σήμερα.

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Picture: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0. View original
A potato farmer on the island of Kefalonia in Greece.

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