When I first decided to start this blog, The Potato Eaters was the first painting that came to my mind. I think it’s a great example of food found in artworks. I especially like this painting because it is not only about the food, but also about people eating and interacting with the food.
In this painting food is the narrator of the story. The potatoes inform us about people’s social status and occupation.
The painting is set in the Netherlands. It was painted in 1885, a time when potatoes were commonly eaten around Europe.
Potatoes were brought to Europe from Peru by the Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Since potatoes grow in almost all climates and altitudes and are more productive than grains; they became very common in all of Europe.
When Van Gogh painted The Potato Eaters, he portrayed the peasant class of Netherlands: poor humble people that enjoyed everything the earth could offer them. Farmers grew potatoes on their properties to provide a cheaper alternative to wheat and other grains.
In the painting we are able to see happiness and gratitude in the peasants’ faces. They are happy of their meal made of potatoes and coffee.
This is probably one of the most simple meals a person could have. When I think of a simple way to eat potatoes, the recipe that comes to my mind is Jacket Potatoes.
Here is a recipe that explains how to cook them in a very simple way.
If you would like to know more about the history of potatoes and about the painting, here are two useful links: