The other day I tossed out some unintentionally aged, not to say vintage, potatoes I was boiling, when I noticed their greenish tinge and Googled “green potatoes.” I found that the green was an indicator of solanine, a poison that occurs naturally in nightshades, such as tomatoes, tobacco, eggplant, and potatoes. There was some disagreement online as to whether or not my potatoes were killers: the National Institute of Health said never to eat potatoes that are green beneath the skin, but snopes.com seemed to think that there wouldn’t be enough of the toxin to kill me.
In the event, the point was moot: the beef liver I’d purchased that very evening from Safeway (an ironic monicker in this case) to serve with the to-be-mashed potatoes was quite whiffy. I tossed the spuds and returned the liver for a refund the next day (a cool $1.40, at $1.49/pound, which may suggest why I was sautéing liver rather than a chop or a steak or even a chunk of fish. Plus I love liver, and other organ meats, in kinship with Leopold Bloom).
But it could have been worse. I could have been throwing together a green salad under the advice of famed English chef Anthony Worrall Thompson, who in an interview with Healthy & Organic Living magazine, recommended henbane for salads. Henbane is also a nightshade, like my all-too-verdant potatoes – but it’s HIGHLY toxic. It turns out that Mr. Thompson meant fat hen, a weed that is unfortunately not as well-known as henbane.
Apologies have gone out, not to mention warnings to have your stomach pumped if you followed the chef’s advice. Worrall Thompson, it’s said, has insured his tongue for 500,000 pounds, to protect his tastebuds – but we’re not sure if it covers slips of said organ.