Now they call them homefries, and sometimes you can order them instead of baked, mashed or fries in an actual restaurant. Even GOOD restaurants.
I grew up literally dirt poor in the hills of Ohio, and garden produce was basically what we lived on year round. I wonder what poor kids eat today? At least 1/3 of our big square dirt garden was devoted to potatoes. We even owned a potato planter. I think it was originally designed to be pulled by horses, but we used one of two small farm tractors, probably using whichever one was working at the time. I remember a big pile of potatoes in wooden crates in our dirt covered basement. Gosh...there must have been rats and mice. One side of the basement was lined with shelves. On those shelves were jars and jars of tomatoes and green beans. As a teen coming home from school looking for something to eat--I usually settled for stewed tomatoes. Imagine that.
But...back to home fries--my mother cooked them in a big cast iron skillet with a big dollop of lard. Yep...LARD!! They were sometimes all we had to eat, when we came in from milking cows and feeding the calves. They were liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper and we could sometimes eat them with cold tomato relish.
And....I loved them...grease and all. I still do, and I still cook them in a cast iron skillet ...on the lowest heat setting of a gas cooktop...15 minutes covered, stir them around, and 15 minutes with the cover off. My kids eat them with ketchup...but they also have hamburgers, or pork chops, or sausage sandwiches to go with them..and at least a green or orange vegetable. And I don't cook them in lard!! I haven't grown potatoes in the garden for a while. I'm trying the method described by Rodale in an old Organic Vegetable Gardening book I have.
I don't remember using the easy method of deep straw mulch..we probably didn't have the straw to spare. Neither do I remember watching for them to come up in the big dirt garden...but I have watched for them this year and I can only hope for the same kind of harvest my parents used to enjoy...because I also remember having to digg them with a potato fork...and digging...and digging.