Yes, I admit to being biased. I am still a Lincolnshire lass at heart. But the Lincoln potatoes are 'in' so let's celebrate the most tasty potato on the planet. This used to be the case with the Jersey Royals, but no longer. They seem pretty tasteless to me. I read somewhere that the reason is that they no longer use seaweed as a fertiliser. But when the Lincolnshire ones come on to our market stalls then things look up.
I buy the first lot, bring them home and have them for tea with mint and butter - nothing else. The taste is sublime. Now, after a fortnight of eating them I use them every which way - some which are left over any minute now will be put into the frying pan with a tiny bit of butter and olive oil and fried to a crisp. Eaten with a tuna salad today!
But I am always reminded of the old days and this was brought to mind this morning by an article in this morning's Times. John-Paul Flintoff headed off to the strawberry fields near Oxford to see what it was like picking strawberries. Here the team of pickers come from Bulgaria and Rumania
(large farms often have as many as a thousand seasonal workers). John-Paul picked for a day and at the end of it had done very poorly compared with the expert pickers and was also absolutely shattered and ached in every joint.
This brought to mind my childhood, when there were no fancy machines to pick potatoes on the vast Lincolnshire potato fields. The farmer went round with his tractor and some antiquated (by today's standards) digger-upper, flinging potatoes on to the surface of the soil. Gangs trailed behind him picking up the potatoes and putting them into baskets. On Saturdays schoolchildren could go and earn a few bob. I was desperate to go.
My Mum and Dad pointed out that I got adequate pocket-money, I didn't need to go and I wouldn't like it. I wittered and wittered and pleaded to go until finally they gave in and said I could go one Saturday. We began early and after an hour I wanted to go home. But I was stuck there all day. Every single muscle in my body ached. I couldn't stand without being in pain, I couldn't sit without being in pain, every time I moved an inch I was in agony. At the end of the day I got my 'wages' - I think it was about five shillings.
I never went again - never ever suggested it. But I still love those first Lincolns. If you haven't done so already - try them.
Now I am off out into my garden to cut my first courgettes from my grow bags. After lunch I shall make a ratatouille and I know it will taste so much better because one of the ingredients will be home grown.