Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Potato

I am an impatient cook. My al dente pasta is very dente indeed; and my steak is so rare that it's an endangered species. Pretty much all of my meals are underdone - to the extent that some people wonder if I've done them at all.

But sometimes, amidst the hustle and bustle of this modern life, we must occasionally prepare ourselves a decent meal. Which is just what I plan to be doing. In the next hour, I shall be cooking a potato: indeed, it's on the stove at the moment - the water's just heating up. It makes a nice metaphor, really: in this fast-paced modern world, shouldn't we all set aside some time for a potato?

I'll let you know how it goes.

This is not my potato - it's just a sample potato I found growing on the internet. Perhaps when the time is ripe, a person will come along and boil this potato too. I'm sure it will make them very happy.

POTATO UPDATE 1! - The water has just reached boiling point. If this potato had feelings, I imagine it would be feeling a lot of pain right about now. Also, if the potato had a mouth and could speak, it would probably be screaming in agony. "HEEEEEELLLLLP MEEEEEEE!!!!" it would be saying.

POTATO UPDATE 2! - Waiting for this potato to be boiled is a little boring.

Have you or a family member had a special time with a potato? Please share your precious potato stories and experiences in comments.

RANDOM POTATO FACT! - The conflicting economic philosophies of the 20th century can be easily summarised with reference to potatoes. Under communism, every man is entitled to one potato; and the government concerns itself with equitable division of all the potatoes in the land. Under socialism, every man is entitled to two potatoes, although this number drops down to half a potato in times of hardship. And under capitalism, there is no regulation on the amount of potatoes a man can cook and eat - so long as they earn the potato themselves, through their own hard work and labour.

Ask any economist and they'll tell you I'm right.

POTATO UPDATE 3! - In a dream once I thought I was a potato. Then Mae West appeared and began to stroke my dusty carapace in a sensuous manner. I was wearing nothing but my pyjamas at the time. It was a very disturbing potato dream.

By the way, lightly fried onion goes well with potato, doesn't it?

POTATO UPDATE 4! - Potato's boiling away very nicely. I can't wait to sink my teeth into it.

POTATO UPDATE 5! - I just added some mushrooms and steak to the frying pan. When the steak was seared on both sides, I made a little sauce by adding some beer and turning it down to simmer. Although this, of course, is all as a side dish to have with the potato. Speaking of which, I think the potato is almost ready, but you can never be sure. I'm getting hungry ...

By the way, I had been planning to see a film tonight, but this potato seems to have taken precedence. Not that I regret it. We have spent a very special time together, this potato and I.

POTATO UPDATE 6! - The potato is boiled! Thank you all for being with me during this very special, and dare I say, formative experience in my life. I shall cherish it always.

POTATO UPDATE 7! - I have just eaten the potato; it was delicious. Did you know that there have been many famous poems written about potatoes?

Shakespeare loved them:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's potato?

Alan Ginsberg had a somewhat fraught relationship with food-stuff of a vegetable matter, as did his fellow beatniks:

Howl (Of a Potato)

I have seen the best potatoes of my generation dragged starving, hysterical, naked

The Bible has the following stern injunction:

Go to the potato, thou sluggard: consider its ways, and be wise.

When introduced to potatoes by Coleridge, Wordsworth wrote the following masterpiece:

Surprised by potatoes! Impatient as the wind -
I turned to share my transport - but with whom?
But thee - fast buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no mere boiled root could find ...

And of course, we should never forget Coleridge's immortal contribution to potato literature, 'The Rime of the Ancient Potato'.


Anonymous said...

I love a sunburnt country
A land of sweeping plains
Of rugged mountain ranges
But it's not really all that closely associated with potatoes.

A traitor

Caz said...

Have you considered the joys of carrots and peas?

With mashed potato - a good mash, with butter and sour cream, a dash of milk, no lumps.

Kathy said...

Ahh Tim!!
You are forgetting the beautiful poem by Kilmer.


I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a potato.
A potato whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the Earths sweet flowing brest..
A potato that moves through the ground and weaves,
Her shoots , and roots and then, leaves.
A potato that may in summer wear.
A nest of worms in her hair.
Upon whose bosom dirt has lain.
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me.
But only God makes potatoes don't he!

Or Ogden Nash's

I think that I shall never see,
A poem lovely as a potato
Indeed unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a potato at all!

TimT said...

Love it, Kath!

Nice one, Phil!

Caz, though it's not mentioned I did in fact have this meal with snow peas and lettuce, in addition to the steak and onions and (of course) the Potato. I love bubble and squeak (of course), though I've hardly ever eaten boiled carrot (we're not a boiled carrot family).
Sour cream in mashed potatoes sounds delicious!

TimT said...

"How much do I love thee? Let me count the potatoes" - Elizabeth Barret Browning.

"One potato to rule them all, one potato to find them,
One potato to bring them all and in the darkness bind them"
- J. R. R. Tolkien.

Kathy said...

And of course some well known songs:

Crazy potato song!.. Axel.F

A potato like me...Rhianna

Joker and the potato... Wolfmother

And some oldies: Who could forget,

What Kind of Potato Am I?... Keely Smith.

Potatoes in The Night... Frank Sinatra.

And the perennial favourite...

Potatoes are Golden(only if the're
deep fried)... The Tremeloes

Anonymous said...

But.. you didn't tell us what you did to the potato after it finished boiling? Butter? Salt? Come on man, don't leave us hanging! We all know very well you can't just boil a potato and eat it like that!

Ella said...

Wow this brings back memories...I had to memorize that Coleridge poem for my 6th grade English class. I still remember the first part:

It is an ancient Potato,
And it stoppeth one of three.
`By thy thin skin and dirty eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me ?
The Kitchen's doors are opened wide,
And I am next to peel ;
The guests are met, the feast is set :
I, the best part of the meal. (etc)

Anonymous said...

One potato two potato three potato four
Bananas too expensive
That's what I want potatoes for.

The Potato Splits

TimT said...

Oh, all right, all right, I had the potato with butter. Salt only for fried potatoes, butter for potatoes baked in their jacket (or possibly sour cream).

The boiled potato subsequently burned the roof of my mouth!

TimT said...

Incidentally, has anyone seen the film 'How Green Was My Potato'? It's a touching, sensitive film about the species of potato mould that lead to the Irish potato famine, and has many standout performances by famous potatos (all, coincidentally, called SPUD.)

It really is a must see film, right up there with other great potato cinematic experiences, such as 2001: A POTATO ODDYSSEY, and GONE WITH THE POTATOES.

Don Quixote said...

"And under capitalism, there is no regulation on the amount of potatoes a man can cook and eat - so long as they earn the potato themselves, through their own hard work and labour."

The regulations under capitalism are all dictated by the man cooking the potatoes; which means, of course, that the potato cook can ensure - in a world devoid of regulations - that all other neophyte potato chefs don't have fertile soil for potato cultivation; thus ensuring that they'll have to rely on the original potato cook for sustenance.

I suggest the Third Way carrot (easy like a potato to cook; high in vitamins - the best of both worlds) for future culinary endeavors.

TimT said...


Kathy said...

Not forgetting some great sci-fi novels (also movies) Timmy.

The Day Of The Potatoes- Wyndham

Invasion of the Potato Snatchers-movie

War Of The Potatoes. Wells....

Hot Potatoes. -Aldiss.

And surely you must remember this classic 'b' grade movie, Tim.

Attack Of The Killer Potatoes..


TimT said...

What a fruity post this has been. You could say that all this talk about potatoes has driven us absolutely bananas, and we'd better all potato off the stage before we start attracting rotten tomatoes.

Anyway, she'll be apples!

Rachy said...

One of the things I miss the most about Europe are the potatoes. I don't know if you can get them in Australia but I like the ones that are yellow coloured, and although I am very pedantic about eating healthy foods every now and again I need something fatty and my favourite is this dish...


TimT said...

That does look delicious. One of the interesting things about Europe is the way it has taken to its heart foods which were not originally its own. Potatoes are more closely associated with the Irish than American-Indians. Tomatoes bring the Italians to mind ...

Kathy said...

Rachy, if you like yellow potatoes a nice one to try is the Royal Blue.

They too are a European potato.
They are purple on the outside but are yellow when peeled.

A great all round potato.

Good for making chips , baking, or boiling.
They have a lovely texture, and smooth flavour.
Also don't fall to bits when cooking, like some types of potatoes do.

Caz said...

The potato actually comes from South America, dating back at least 5,000 years to that region.

The tomato is also believed to be native to the Americas, possibly starting cultivation with the Aztecs.

Of course, the tomato is actually a fruit, not a vegie, as people often think, and the banana is a herb, not a fruit.

Kathy said...

Yeah Caz, I always tell everyone I have 2 pieces of fruit per day for breakfast.
Two grilled Roma tomatoes..

Not much into typical fruit..

(Love the veg though..)

But tomatoes are a fruit!!

Anonymous said...

Something's rotten in Idaho--Devo, Duty Now For The Future.

TimT said...

Bananas are a herb? I hadn't heard that before ... the things you learn!

redsaid said...

I am late. As usual.

But I have a REAL potato song. Let me know how I can send you an mp3!


TimT said...

Never too late to be welcome on this thread, Red! I'm intrigued: a real potato song?

I'm surprised nobody has of yet mentioned the ABC's 'Bananas in Pyjamas' ... So I will now ...

Email: timhtrain - at -

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