spin it how you like: the spectrum of the potato is wide ::::
I took a short break. I’m not turning this into a social justice blog; there are plenty of those around with better resources and writing. I hope to eventually update my “Likey Likey” page with some good weblinks for those who are interested in pursuing the topic further. Bottom line: genderism and racism are NEVER going away until the privileged (starts with white male privilege — I allude to some of this in the paragraph below) give up their privilege, until it is deconstructed. That’s the gist, though totally simplified in one sentence. This is always a heated and emotional discussion, if people are being honest. All too often, we ignore microaggression or even blatant racial prejudice because it’s easier to ignore it than address it. (That’s where privilege comes in. If you’re privileged, it’s hard to give it up and to even admit it. Very hard. BUT POSSIBLE. AND NECESSARY.) Before I really start to rant, let’s get on with the food.
Potatoes: bland and starchy in their unadorned state become the head-turners when dressed up. They are versatile, glistening with butter and dill, or baked and cloaked in cheese and bacon, or roasted with a twig of rosemary or quick kiss of bay. I would be remiss to omit the ubiquitous french fry, that thing that has taken over the world of fried foods, plundering all others in its path. Whatever your modus operundi, potatoes are a vehicle for many a flavor. You can spin it French Laundry style with Potato Pave (if one could eat silk, this is how I imagine it would taste, with a good dose of butter). It can be more comfort food with diced and roasted potatoes, tumbled next to a flank of something (beef, pork, or lover). You may serve it as a meal, baked, topped with butter, bacon, sour cream, mushrooms, onions, bacon, or peas (a former boss used to eat peas on his baked potatoes — I associate this combo with misogyny and a penchant to screw already underserved patients over with discriminatory private medical practice billing — basically assholery). It can be that unassuming, undeserved underpad to a teetering frenched lamb chop duo (like a soft blanket, a safety net, essentially the definition of grace). And it could be that nostalgia of Thanksgivings and Christmases gone by before you cut thousands of calories of carbs from your daily diet because someone convinced you that THEY ARE EVIL.
Buck up, person, and suspend your carb worry, just for a moment. Try some accordion potatoes, dressed up with butter and cheese. Perfect hangover food. Good post marathon food for calorie repletion. Had a bad day at work? These are for you. Have picky food kids? Tell them these are giant isopods (“roly-poly” or “pill bugs”), COOKED, and READ TO STAB WITH A FORK. Some people call these hedgehog potatoes; this name can also ploy your children into eating something different. Either description will simultaneously freak them out and stir up their curiosity. If musically inclined, delight table guests with an accordion visual. (My favorite accordion performance, EVER, is in the Italian movie Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips) when Rosalba (actress Licia Maglietta), coming into her own, sits down with a borrowed accordion from Fernando and plays the song Franska Valsen with such intensity and bliss, I had to watch it over and over. It made me a believer the accordion can play more than just a polka. And if anyone else plays that song, it won’t ever be the same as Rosalba does it.)
Watch Pane e Tulipani, talk about bugs and prickly animals, and enjoy buttery potatoes. And the best part, there are no peas. They are the real evil, not carbs. (cf. pea porridge with fresh ricotta and speck).
- enough medium-sized organic Russet potatoes (washed and scrubbed) to fit into a 9x12-inch baking dish
- 1 stick of butter, cold but not frozen (salted is fine)
- garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- about 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 green onions, finely chopped for garnish (or use chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley)
- a few slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- sour cream, for serving
- SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: wooden spoon; 9x12-inch baking dish
- First step, assemble your baking dish and determine how many potatoes you can fit fairly snugly (though, once accordioned -- that is a verb --and buttered, they will widen a bit). The trick is to accordion your potatoes without slicing all the way through the potato. By placing a potato on the bowl of the wooden spoon to slice, the slightly upturned edges of the spoon bowl help cue you to stop slicing before you have gone too far. While you are slicing your potatoes in this fashion, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and cook your bacon.
- When potatoes are accordioned, slices thin pieces of the cold butter and slip a couple into each potato in between your careful slicing. You don't need to fill up each slice with butter; it will melt. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on some garlic powder.
- IF YOU WANT SOFTER POTATOES: Wrap baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Pull off foil, baste with melted butter in dish, then bake for 20 minutes more.
- IF YOU WANT MORE CRISPY POTATOES: Place baking dish in oven for 1 hour, uncovered. You can baste at least once, but not necessary.
- Remove baking dish, sprinkle potatoes with cheese, and return to oven for about 5 more minutes to melt cheese.
- Assemble your toppings, sprinkle potatoes with crumbled bacon and greens.