A single devastating event however, looms large in the Irish history of potatoes — the Irish potato famine. In the 1840s there was a major outbreak of potato blight, which swept through Europe, wiping out the potato crop in many countries. The Irish economy was so dependent on a single variety of potatoes - the unpalatable but fertile 'lumper' - that the famine led to almost a million deaths, and the subsequent emigration of millions more (see Irish diaspora).













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By the seventeenth century the potato had become firmly established as a staple of Europe's poor, leading richer people to spurn it, although this changed gradually, with Antoine-Auguste Parmentier's persuasion of King Louis XVI of the value of the crop. The soup Potage Parmentier gains its name from the great horticulturalist. In Russia potatoes were met with initial suspicion and called "the Devil's apples" because of folklore surrounding things that grow underground or which have associations with dirt.

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