There are some foods that I just longed for when I lived in America. Proper butter. A loaf of soft white sliced – Mother’s Pride, in a perfect world. Toast. Heinz Baked Beans that weren’t rammed full of molasses. Chip shop chips. Ice cold Ribena. Hot Cross Buns. Creme Eggs.
A few of these I could buy in New York or any big US city, but there are some things that you just can’t buy in America full stop. And British potato varieties are one of them. I used to long for a perfect floury potato*. And, every spring, without fail, I’d drool thinking of the glory of Jersey Royals.
They are a particularly delicious, fine-fleshed new potato, grown only on the island of Jersey which, whilst closer to France than England, is one of the Channel Islands and therefore part of the United Kingdom. Characterised by paper thin skins, which can’t be peeled, you just rub off the dirt, and some of the peel comes away, but not all of it.
Because I love a good fact, Wiki tells us that “Annually the Jersey Royal market has a value of £35m. It is Jersey’s biggest crop export, accounting for 70% of agricultural turnover (and) 99% of production is exported to the United Kingdom.”
I was sent a bag of Jersey Royals last week by a PR last week. (I like this world where people send me food; I never got sent potatoes when I worked on fashion magazines.) They had been sent straight over to the mainland, so they were bubbling away on my hob within 24hours of being picked. And oh they were good. They arrived with a serving suggestion involving cream cheese and herbs, but all I wanted to do was scrub off the dirt, cook them in boiling water, sprinkle over some Maldon, and then smother them in so much Kerrygold that my arteries furred just looking at the bowl.
So that is exactly what I did.
And that was lunch. Jersey Royals. Cold butter. Maldon Sea Salt.
*Like Nanny in Nancy Mitford’s The Blessing, who is distinctly upset at the lack of floury potatoes in the South of France