This week’s synchroblog topic is: Happiness is not a potato.
To this, I say: That is a bald-faced lie.
Let me set a scene, if I may. You are home for Christmas. There is at least a foot of snow on the ground. It glitters and dazzles in the morning light and crunches under foot with every step, a chorus of tiny creaks and cracks to punctuate your every step. Global warming is very far away. It is a welcome relief from the barren, brown, North Carolina—or I suppose now it would be DC—winter. You are going out to the barn to visit your horse on Christmas morning, armed with candy canes and gourmet horse treats and all the spoiling you have saved up for the past 6 or 8 or 12 months, however long it has been. You have already opened presents and consumed your dad’s homemade chocolate rolls and gulped down mugs of sinfully rich hot chocolate. When you get home from the barn, there will be a long day ahead of trying on new clothes, reading books, calling friends, and watching A Christmas Story on TBS.
And there will be potatoes.
You can’t help it. You think about these potatoes all day. The anticipation begins as a slow simmer, but by late afternoon when the potatoes are burbling in the pot on the kitchen stove, the earthy scent wafting through the house, it begins to be unbearable. You might even hover around the kitchen as your mom mashes the potatoes, adding milk and butter and salt and pepper into the perfect medley of flavor, hoping for a lick of the spoon or to run your finger around the rim of the pot. But that’s not even the best of it. The magic happens when your mom adds cheese and cream to the potatoes, elevating them from mere mashed potatoes to heavenly Chantilly potatoes. They go in the oven, where they slowly bubble and brown in the heat, a tantalizing crust forming over the whipped potatoes below. They are the crowning achievement of every Christmas and Thanksgiving meal. They are required.
I defy anyone to tell me that this is not happiness.
In fact, one year Christmas was utterly ruined when there was a mishap with the Chantilly potatoes, some error in the addition of cheese or cream or maybe both. The result was botched, and Christmas was over. [Note: my mother is going to be very annoyed with this anecdote, but it really helps prove my point, so I’m leaving it in. After all, she has made dozens upon dozens of batches of pure happiness, so it hardly tarnishes her record.]
I could go on about the Chantilly potatoes—possibly I could even write a sonnet—but that would be to leave out other bringers of potato-y happiness! That would be to neglect the best pasta of my life, a gigantic bowl of gnocchi in a spicy tomato sauce at Pasta Mia in Adams Morgan. Whoever came up with the idea of turning potatoes into pillowy, hearty, delicious pasta was a genius. They were so light! So fluffy, and yet entirely filling! Each bite exploded in a flavor bomb in my mouth. There are very few things that I like more than a good bowl of gnocchi, and this left every previous bowl of gnocchi in the dust.
And then there are French Fries. Sometimes, a good French Fry is the only thing that can make a bad day better. Not to mention all of the assorted cousins—tater tots, waffle fries from Chick-fil-A, sweet potato fries.
In fact, on more than one occasion, I have declared that were I to have to pick one food item to eat on a deserted island for the rest of my life, it would be potatoes. Clearly I would like to have potato variety, but if I had to get really specific about it, I’d take my mom’s Chantilly potatoes any day. And I would be fat as a barrel, despite the whole deserted island business, because those things are deadly.
And I wouldn’t even care, because I would be happy.
This week’s synchroblog topic, as you might have picked up on, was Happiness is not a potato. You can read the other entries at The Creative Collective.