On St. Patrick's Day, there is a centuries-old tradition of Irish-American gardeners. Heedless of cold, blustery weather, they plant potatoes in their gardens.
History states the potato was not an instant hit in Great Britain. Uncooked, the strange new food was bitter. The pious rejected potatoes since they grew underground, Satan's realm. So they tested it in their original "colony" -- Ireland.
Potatoes became the rage in the rest of Europe, where noble ladies famously wore "tiaras" of potato blossoms in their hair. The French called potatoes "apples of the earth"; the Germans called them "earth truffles.
To popularize potatoes Antoine-Augustin Parmentier placed armed guards around the potato fields. He instructed guards to accept all bribes and allow people to "steal" the crop. This aroused public curiosity and the people decided that anything so carefully guarded must be valuable. One night Parmentier allowed the guards to go off duty, and the local farmers, as he had hoped, went into the field, confiscated the potatoes and planted them on their own farms. From this small start, the habit of growing and eating potatoes spread. It is said that Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), Queen of France and married to Louis XVI, often pinned potato flowers in her curls. Because of her, ladies of the era wore potato blossoms in their hair.