The humble potato. A prolific tuber that no one would eat for the longest time. At least, not in Europe.
But potatoes have addictive qualities. I know, because I’m addicted to them. It’s part cultural, part genetic. A great deal of my heritage is Irish. Growing up, my uncle and I used to have mashed potato races. (Wow, that just made me laugh out loud. That was probably my introduction to competitive eating!) Uncle Ron always won. I was a kid – I was okay with him winning. But the potatoes were always marvelous, with lots of butter, cream, salt and pepper.
But potatoes change and mutate as people grow up. As little children, we like mashed potatoes. We like the way it felt in our mouths. During holidays we enjoyed making little wells in our potatoes to hold our gravy.
As teenagers we headed toward the crunchy aspects of potatoes. Chips were great. We had them everywhere. They were especially useful during crises and stress, when their crunch was just something we needed that helped comfort us. And french fries…things to crunch on, nibble on, and even to gesture with as an extension of our fingers during particularly vocal and vociferous meals. They’re also really good for surreptitiously starting food fights.
With adulthood comes the gourmet aspects of potatoes – roasting them with garlic, olive oil, fresh rosemary, and a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. On the Fourth of July you can show you patriotism making potato salad with blue (okay, purple) Peruvian potatoes. Great texture and flavor, and they hold up in salad form.
I guess it’s evident I like them.
Lots of other people do, too. Americans list potatoes as their number one vegetable. (We won’t tell them that it’s really a starch.)
Have a great day!