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Ode to the Potato

Sheena Greer enlivened many of us with an essay about the potato

I’m not sure if I can fully describe the obsession prairie farm folk have with potatoes. I know, everyone eats potatoes. But I don’t believe they do to the extent that stubborn farmers do.

My mother grew a massive crop of the ruddy bastards. As a child, I recall at least 5/7 meals a week being accompanied by some kind of potato. Boiled. Baked. Mashed. Smashed. Whipped. Chipped. Wedged. Grisped. Fried. Grilled. Roasted. Microwaved and covered with Cheese Wiz and shut up and finish your goddamn potatoes.

To say we were a “meat and potatoes” kind of family isn’t quite right. We were a potato family. Likely because they were cheap and plentiful. And simple.

To be honest, I fucking hated potatoes. A little part of me would die when, walking up to the front door after school, I could smell them on the stove.

Fucking potatoes. Again.

It’s not a great thought for a 7 year old to have on a regular basis, but I used to pray to a god I was never really sure existed that we’d get to have some fucking kraft dinner instead.

Buttered noodles.

Even a goddamn tuna casserole.

Anything but potatoes.

Enough already with the fucky potatoes, Jayleen!

But suddenly, something changed. Maybe the awkward rite of passage that is puberty made me realise I longed for a simpler time when the only thing I had to worry about was whether or not I’d have to gag down a bastardly buttery starch hillock.

It was like being hit with a wave of nostalgic longing. Perhaps that’s what it meant to really become a woman in my family. You suddenly long for potatoes.

Especially freshly dug, still covered in wet earth potatoes.

She also includes this amazing recipe.  I call it amazing not because of how it tastes (although I do intend to make it) but because how it is written.

You don’t need to be camping to eat these. But I do suggest you make them – whether on a fire, a BBQ, or in the oven – in one of those shitty aluminium dollar store pans. Preferably one that you’ve used at least a dozen times before and permanently smells like burning. If it’s brand new and you happen to have a torch of some kind, I highly recommend scorching it a bit first, but only if you’re sober.

  • 6-12 baby potatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 onion, cut how you like it
  • Margarine or butter, as much as your preferred deity allows you
  • Salt and pepper
  • That’s all, bitches

Layer that shit in the pan. Cover it with tinfoil. Shut up and eat it. Preferably outside. Surrounded by tall trees. With a can of beer. While someone tells you an off-colour joke. While loons call. And northern lights dance.

Read the entire essay, check out the recipe, and then grab yourself a potato and make a side dish or something.

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