The Humble Potato

I don’t know about you, but I grew up on potatoes.The diet in my childhood days was usually meat, potatoes and two other vegetables.

Contrary to popular belief, potatoes are healthy and contain lots of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, magnesium, B6, Iron, Niacin, Folate, Thiamin, and Zinc and fibre! They are also really versatile and can be cooked in so many ways. Just check out the internet for potato recipes and you will come up with hundreds or maybe even thousands of recipes.

There are also many potato diets. Some people advocate eating only potatoes two or three days a week to encourage weight loss. Andrew Taylor, a self-confessed food addict from Melbourne, ate only potatoes for a year! This included sweet potatoes as well as the humble spud. Miraculously, he didn’t die of boredom or obesity. On the contrary, he lost lots of weight and reported feeling better than ever, had a lot of energy, was sleeping better, felt happier and had more focus and clarity.

I was inspired by his story and I love potatoes, so in my quest to overcome “histamine overload” (that I wrote about in my last blog post), I decided to experiment with an elimination diet for a couple of weeks. I started with only potatoes, including sweet potatoes which aren’t really potatoes. The first day I had boiled potatoes. It was fine, I enjoyed my boiled potatoes. The second day was a different story though. I had my boiled potatoes for breakfast and then I went to class. I felt really spacey, away with the fairies. I managed to hold it together enough to finish class. I felt nauseous when I had my potatoes for lunch and again I was away with the fairies. That night I cooked baked potatoes instead and that was much better. Day three, I had baked potatoes and again I went to class and was so spacey that I really struggled to keep it together and thought I was going to pass out. My tummy didn’t feel too good either. Still I persevered with my potato elimination diet. Day four was much like the previous day. I felt concerned about the spaciness so that night I decided to have some chicken as I felt like I needed a bit of grounding. That made a difference.

I concluded that the potato diet wasn’t for me! Actually, I have even considered the fact that maybe I have an intolerance to potatoes! This can easily happen when you eat too much of one food, and as I love potatoes I was eating them most days. In his book Diet Wise, Professor Keith Scott-Mumby says that in his 30 years of practice as an allergy specialist, he has seen a potato allergy arise frequently among people suffering from eczema. I suffer from eczema and used to crave potatoes. Craving is a sure sign that you have an allergy to some food. Actually, I haven’t eaten potatoes, apart from the orange sweet potatoes, since then!

Kampung New Zealand, Pahang

Salamat Datang! Welcome to Kampung New Zealand!

When I heard that there was a village called Kampung New Zealand not far from Kuantan, as a Kiwi, I knew I had to go there. It’s about an hour's drive from Kuantan.

 Originally, this village was known as Sungai Kertam, but in 1962 it was changed to Kampung New Zealand to commemorate the financial assistance given by the New Zealand government. As well as tarsealing the road, they provided an electric generator and a water reservoir. They also supplied a teacher and a doctor. Most of the settlers were employed in the palm and rubber industries.

 Although, there doesn’t seem to be too much there now, it is a pleasant wee settlement in a rural setting. We were there on a Saturday when nothing was open, but as we drove around I noticed that the letterboxes were very colourful. These two Kiwi icons stand proudly near the entrance to the town.

The Silver Fern symbol has come to represent the spirit of NZ. You will see it in NZ official tourism promotions and on many NZ products. It also features on the logo for all NZ sporting teams, such as the All Blacks rugby, the Black Caps cricket, the All Whites soccer (football),  the Silver Ferns netball, and NZ rowing teams. Flags with a silver fern on a black background dominate NZ sporting events!

Here I am standing beside the Kiwi near the entrance to Kampung New Zealand. The kiwi is another national symbol representing New Zealand. Kiwis, flightless birds, are native to NZ. They are protected and many efforts are being made to manage or increase their populations. New Zealand people are also colloquially referred to as "Kiwis", at home and internationally. Kiwi fruit is also named after this kiwi bird!