mr. potato head

I came into a conscious moment with a pick axe in hand, wellies on my feet digging into five inches of sand and clay attempting to garden in the desert. I could feel my Polish farmer ancestors trying to will the soil into something workable. Gardening at 7000 feet was a new adventure for me and a long cry from the worm-loving soil of my New England homeland. At one point my friend said, “this is like gardening on Mars.” So, instead of getting down on the whole gardening adventure I pretended I lived in Nigel Slater’s garden which he writes about in his delightful new cookbook, Tender. Slater’s writing and pictures of his stunning garden made my rocky soil a distant memory. Being of good Polish stock I had to check out his chapter on potatoes, he starts

The flowers of the potato, delicate petals whose stamens bunch together to form a point, are among the most charming in the vegetable garden. Marie Antoinette wore them in her hair.

I always knew I liked her. He goes on to discuss the focus of anti-potato behavior of late,

I see only good coming from this movement away from having a pile of potatoes on our plate. From it will come a new appreciation of an ingredient whose qualities have long been measured only in quantity. We shall learn that this vegetable is so much more interesting than simply a “filler,” that it is something whose character can vary dramatically according to season and variety. A vegetable to be explored with a new vigor.

And if you’re like me and your favorite form of potato is baked, I couldn’t resist this piece of advice,

To achieve a fluffy interior, the steam must leave the flesh quickly. A good karate chop will suffice, though wrapping a kitchen towel around the hand first is worth thinking about. Your blow should be hard enough to break the skin but not so hard to send potato shrapnel all over the kitchen. In time you can perfect it.

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