"Potatoes are one of the primary staple crops of Scarterra. Acre per acre, potatoes won't feed as many people as rice or wheat, but these humble spuds can grow in almost any soil and almost any climate. And there are varieties of potatoes ideally suited to a wide variety of conditions. And once in a while, you get tired of eating bread all the time. -Green Reverend Brynn
"We dwarves aren't the only things that feel at home underground. Potatoes and other root crops are not just resistant to unexpected frosts, but they have a tactical advantage in warfare. Even if it is nowhere near harvest time it is common for casual raiders to chop down enemy crops growing in the fields. It is a lot of easier to chop down some wheat or corn stalks or set fire to a field of barley than it is to dig up half formed potatoes." -Norabruck Grumblespine, dwarven Circuit Priestess of Nami
Potatoes are a fairly simple crop to grow. There are varieties of potato that grow in pretty much every climate seen in Scarterra. Cold, temperate, or warm. Dry, moderate or damp. High elevation or low elevation. The most popular varieties or potatoes are the ones that can thrive in relatively dry, relatively cold, relatively high elevation locations. Such places are not really capable of growing much at all, so the fact that they can grow potatoes is better than nothing. Besides variations for local growing conditions. Potatoes come in variations by taste and use. Ideal Vodka potatoes are not normally ideal boiling potatoes.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
Po-tay-toes! Boil em, mash em, stick em in a stew. Lovely big golden chips with a nice piece of fried fish. -Samwise Ganji, Lord of the Rings the Two TowersThere are a wide variety of means one can cook or eat a potato. Potatoes can also be fermented into vodkas. Potato vodka can be found anywhere potatoes can be found, but it is only espcially popular in Penarchia.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Despite not having contact with each other for over a thousand years, the wood elves, dark elves and grey elves all independently decided not to cultivate potatoes. In East Colassia, a lot of the higher elevation lands of Kahdisteria are not capable of growing any major foodstuffs apart from potatoes. The dark elves view potatoes as fit food for their slaves, but not elves. The humans of the Colassian Confederacy do not want the stigma of eating the swill that the dark elves feed their chattel, so they generally avoid potatoes unless they literally cannot grow anything else. It's not exactly slave food, but it is certainly food for poor people. The human upper class would not touch a potato with a ten foot fork The major exception is the nation of Marginalland which grows a lot of potatoes because their soil and water not great for wheat or barley. This is yet one more thing that sets the people of Marginalland as culturally distinct or marginalized from their allies in the Confederacy. Potatoes are extremely popular in Penarchia. They still grow cereal crops and even rice in some places, but large swaths of the continent are not suitable for growing much besides potatoes. The harsher winters and period small scale brushfire wars also mean potatoes are more secure against incidental damage than other crops would be. There is no social stigma on potatoes. Peasants and princes alike eat them. The Elven Empire barely has any potatoes viewing it as food for human peasants, and even then, most elf lords believe their human subjects deserve better. Umeran humans will not admit it, but a lot of the Elven Empire's culture rubbed off on them. Umerans tend to show disdain for eating potatoes and almost never cultivate the crop, even when geographic conditions make it a logical thing to do. Apseldian Half-elves rarely budge from the standard elven attitude towards potatoes. They hardly ever eat potatoes despite having some rugged land that would probably grow decent taters. It doesn't help the attitutude towards potatoes that Umera has lots of land ideal for rice cultivation, which is the staple food of most Umeran humans with wheat taking a distant second. West Colassia has picked up some of the prejudices against potatoes from East Colassia and Umera, their closest neighbors, but in the end pragmatism won out. Fumaya and Uskala grow and eat a lot of potatoes and you are equally like to see potatoes on the dinner plate of a prince or peasant. Both these lands rely on a roughly even mix of potatoes and wheat for their staple crop. Potatoes are less common in the land of Kantoc. Enough attitudes from Umera and East Colassia bleed over that many Kantoca view potatoes as peasant food. A lot of Kantoc's northern lands are used for subpar wheat and rye fields when they could be fertile potato fields. The King of Kantoc himself makes it known that he eats potatoes to try to legitimize spuds as a respectable food, but very few among the nobility have taken to this practice. Potatoes are relatively common in the Border Baronies Region. The locals there are not picky eaters. They will eat anything that grows in their harsh lands. The dwarves of Meckelorn and Stahlheim are also not picky eaters. You can find potatoes on the dinner plates of lowborn and highborn dwarves. Potatoes are viewed as a peasant food in Swynfaredia, but the social class of potatoes is more fluid than elsewhere. Some dragon bloods will eat potatoes as part of a "man of the people" act or to show they defy conventions in general. Swynfaredia has a lot of land for good wheat production but they still have some areas that are good for little better than potatoes. The wood elves, of all elves, are the least prejudiced against potatoes. Some gain a taste for potatoes on their Rumspringas. Codenya doesn't have any sweeping potato fields but a few elves keep small potato patches for the novelty of it. Vodka is another matter. Most West Colassians, human, dwarf, or gnome view that as a drink for poor people. Especially dwarves. Even the non-discriminating palates of Meckelorner dwarves dwarves will generally only drink vodka as a last resort.
Civilization and Culture
Potatoes were first deliberately cultivated by farmers in the Second Age or even the the First Age, but they are viewed as a Third Age crop. Most major staple crops we know today were first planted by elves in the second Age or they were first planted by ancient dragons thurekal and later improved on by elves. Elves may claim to dislike the taste of potatoes but they are turn their nose up on spuds for their humble origins. Potatoes were first deliberately planted by kobolds and they were further developed by goblins. In hindsight this makes a lot of sense, elves were hidebound and reluctant to experiment with any crop not derived from the majestic dragon grass but kobolds and goblins live below them, often literally so they are more likely to try something more civilized folk would overlook. Because kobolds don't keep much in the way of written records we don't know if potatoes were created before or after the First Unmaking and we don't what the ancestor plant is for domesticated potatoes." -Green Reverend Brynn
"Elves always looked down on potatoes but others are less snobbish. Potatoes were widely adopted by humans and dwarves alike during the Red Era. Winters were long and harsh then and potatoes could handle unexpected forests better than most Second Age grains. More importantly the constant brushfire wars of the Red Era Red Age meant farmers wanted to plant something harder for enemies to sabotage. In the Feudal That is why you see a lot of potatoes today in unstable areas. Potatoes are popular in the northern frontier regions of Kantoc, Fumaya, and Uskala who have to deal with occasional orc raids form the north, the near entirety of the Border Baronies Region and potatoes are very popular in Penarchia which still seeks stuck in the Red Age mentality. Their food mages are still developing new varieties of potatoes. Umera, Khemarok and most of the northern islands in the southern hemisphere have too much elven influence to pick up potatoes. -Norabruck Grumblespine, dwarven Rover on the Wind
"Some say gnomes grew the first potatoes. We never grew the first potatoes, just the best potatoes. Our ancestors tried to forge a lasting peace between goblins, koblods and the civilized races. This effort clearly failed, but our ancestors were able to maintain a détente long enough to trade some crop seedlings. The kobolds and goblins got barely and we got potatoes. If the humans and especially the dwarves did not think the potatoes came from us, they would not have initially accepted them." -Roodnat, gnome chef