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.