Monday, December 11, 2006

Spuds Aren't Duds!

I’ve been home a scant week and have already coined a new phrase which I cannot get out of my head. Tangentially it seems pertinent to now. In a random movie file sent to me I caught sight of a frozen visage similar to one that might have accidentally locked eyes with Medusa. Somewhat haunted by this image I was compelled to know more about the person behind the face. Was she anything like this one stuck frame? Ironically when released from her slumber “on play”, the woman emphatically espoused a belief that we attract the kind of energy that we put out. Her buoyant words bounced between optimism and dramatic enthusiasm while her hidden face betrayed her game: one frame, a fraction of a moment in time, a grimaced expression immortalized for the world to remember—her default face.

In a slightly different vein, I can relate to this fixed attention. Back at therapy camp when I was eating three square meals a day, I was reintroduced to the modest baked potato. After a week plus of slogging through puddles of waterlogged vegetables, a once neglected alternative came to the fore. Without realizing it, potatoes have silently retreated from my horizon for much of my adult life, receiving a bum rap for being too caloric. These starchy tubers are the perfect companion to all things dairy, graininess mollified by a swift pat of butter and a pool of cream. While I don’t like to admit to marching to the drum of a food fad, it seems the potato got the boot with the overwhelming condemnation of carbohydrates. Going away brought them back.

My potato arrived perfectly baked. Skin browned a paper crisp husk to a steaming moist yet fluffy interior. Split and mashed with a smidge of butter and a sprinkle of salt, the resulting jumble is nothing short of honest revelatory satisfaction. The single food contains a delight of tactile experiences. The body of the spud a meaty mouthful, belly filling and dense yet easily diminished into a digestible swallow. The skin, an earthly shell with a taste of iron and a hint of dirt, in places eager to peel clean off, a tease and contrast too. In other spots the flesh holds tight to the edge baking to an irresistible sweet burn chew. I stumbled upon these subterranean beauties in my hour of deprivation, first as a treat which then swiftly became a night time routine. Now they seem to reside within me. Potatoes are my default food.

I have been standing by patiently these past two weeks, hoping for space to open up magically to describe these newfound friends. Like silent watchdogs, they wait ready and faithful. Instead of sugarplums dancing in my head this holiday season, I envision squat blunted ovoid forms spinning in slow stunted motion. Certainly they are not glamorous enrobed in glitter and shine, but they do provide ballast and comfort not to mention potassium, vitamin C and fiber. While there is always room for gingerbread, candied Kumquats and lacquered Goose on a festive holiday table, this year there is place for another and other.

11 comments:

Ellie said...

That was a beautiful post. Even though we all love the pomp and glamour of some of these holiday foods, it is sometimes this kind of humble fare which is the most satisfying of all...

Callipygia said...

Thank you ellie, I have been feeling like a stodgy grinch unable to pull myself to the table. It is nice to just appreciate what is there all along.

woof said...

This spuds for you! Yah, it would seem that in today's Atkins crazed world that carbs are out. But maybe you can help make spuds the new pink!

sher said...

Ahh, I loved this post!! As a person with lots of Irish blood in me, I think a simple baked potato is a thing of beauty. They're so soothing. And you can tuck one in your pocket or purse and munch on it when needed.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! Yay!!

Oh my lord have I missed you! I was so grateful that you could post a couple times while you were away.. each time a gift to my heart =)

I couldn't agree more about the potato. I think most of us take the simple spud for granted. I know there is nothing better than a potato baked in a hot oven until it's skin is crunchy and it's insides creamy. Although I try to pair green veggies with most of my dinners, I must have a baked potato at least twice a month. We both look forward to those nights =)

gattina said...

I love fresh baked potato very much - cut it open, see that snowflake-alike texture except it has golden hue, even pretty! It'll be more enjoyable with your beautiful painting in front of me!

Callipygia said...

It is great to be back and wow- apparently potatoes have their loyal following!

woof- no need to worry about carbs with your physique.

sher- I am so impressed if you actually carry them in your pocket. I did forget to mention that they are little cuddle bunnies.

lis- Yes I am so used to throwing so many ingredients into the mix that going elemental is spud-tacular.

gattina- gee maybe all of us will have fluffy potatoes dancing in our heads this holiday season.

Anonymous said...

Spuderama.
Lefse! the holiday treat! Doncha forget the butter and jam. Or the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Or the butter, honey, chocolate -- omigod, where am I going with this? Eat, eat!

Callipygia said...

anonymous- is this my norwegian friend...honey? Lefse indeed, I've only eaten with the spiced rolled lamb and jarlsburg. This is making me thirsty for aquavit!

miragee said...

Baked potatoes are a plain but beautiful (in terms of taste) dish, especially with a bit butter and for me, some sweet maiyonnaise. As a matter of fact, I had a lot of purees last night and I just love that creamy taste...

Glad to have you back! Hope everything goes well. Take care ok?

Callipygia said...

miragee- oh I like the idea of slipping in some mayo, yes it is sweet!