A small, starchy brown root vegetable, Solanum tuberosum. Closest edible relatives are the tomato, eggplant and chili. It is not related to either the sweet potato (lopomoea batatas, native to North America) or the yam (either of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius, native to India, Dioscorea opositae, native to China, or Oxalis tuberosa, native to South America).
I myself am proud to be a member of this wonderful race. All hail the mighty potato!
Varieties of potato
The history of the potato:
The potato evolved in South America, living in a glorious symbiotic relationship with the llama and other native wildlife. In return for fertilisation, the potato would give the llama its succulent leaves to eat. This golden age was shattered, however, with the arrival of the human race. Potatoes were routinely plucked from the ground in the prime of their lives by the cruel hand of humanity; by the Incan race and their ancestors.
Escape from this fate was promised to some by the Conquistadores of Spain. Contrary to popular belief, neither Sir Francis Drake nor Sir Walter Raleigh had anything to do will the emigration; it was probably an anonymous Spanish soldier who brought back the first potato. However, the potato was not widely consumed in Europe, remaining instead a curiosity rather than a food source.
But upon arrival in Ireland, the starch-thirsty natives wasted no time in taking advantage of the potatoes' precious carbohydrates. The potato was easier to grow than any grain, taking up less space and needing less care, and thereby could cope with the pressure of feeding the growing population of Ireland.
In England, potatoes were less needed. The citizens abstained from the cruel practice of potato massacre, until, that is, the Industrial Revolution. Soon the inner cities were crowded with the Lower class, all needing sustenance, and without enough bread to go round. The English finally turned to the Irish solution, and soon the potato was eaten there as well.
But back in Ireland, disaster was about to strike for both potato and human. The potato blight was released upon the land, killing millions of potatoes in one fell swoop, and starving the human population of its main food supply. The Great Famine hit: three famines within four years. Many humans fled, and many more died.
Those Irish that had fled to America brought with them a few samples of their cherished vegetable to feed them in the new world. The land suited the potato, especially the flat landscape and mild climate of Idaho and Washington. Thus the potato spread to a third continent, though still a slave to humanity. It would be many years before the Church of Potatoism was formed, and potatoes could start to rise against their human oppressors. The final era in potato history is just beginning... 8^)