Monday, March 9, 2009

Take Back the Tuber

So, I was in fact too busy with the cabana boys to write anything about my road trip to Florida. Besides, a vacation is not really a vacation if it involves a computer screen. And besides that, I figure no one besides me would find my food finds that interesting. But, if you ever find yourself traveling along both coasts or cruising down Route 1 in the Keys, and you are wondering what to eat, get in touch! I did not have a single unimpressive meal -- and this was almost two whole weeks of road food. Also, and this may come as a surprise, I do sometimes do things that don't involve eating (e.g., sleeping, drinking, lying on the beach, petting stray cats), and I'd be happy to pass that related information along, too.

Me in my bathing suit, Siesta Key, February 2009

But the vacation's over, another new job has begun, and news about the economy (is there any other kind of news?) gets more depressing every day. Well, bless her little heart, Jane E. Brody has come to America's rescue by encouraging us to Take Back the Tuber. I suppose I am amplifying her potato praise a bit -- it covered only two paragraphs or so of her Science Times column on March 2. But it did have its own section heading: "Potatoes: One of the Good Guys." Can I get an Amen?!?!

J. Bro goes on to point out that potatoes, defamed in recent years as nothing but carb-heavy repositories of butter and bacon, provide 35 percent of your daily vitamin C, 20 percent of your B6, 10 percent of your niacin, iron, and copper, and 6 percent of your protein. I'll add to that list that if you eat the skin, you also get a shitload (pun intended) of fiber.

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love the homely old tuber, any way I can get it. But there's really nothing more comforting -- or more affordable -- than a baked potato. Tonight I topped mine with a tiny bit of butter, some salt and pepper, a whole lot of steamed broccoli, and a couple sprinkles of blue cheese (so tempting, all melty and soft in the potato's heat. Methinks my next career will be the first author of tubercentric romance novels, an untapped genre). Baked potatoes are also great for using up leftovers of almost any kind -- think of them as edible landfills (yes, that makes no sense at all) for chicken salad, ground beef, roasted veg, beans, whatever. I'd like to douse a tater with my dal saag or cilantro-garlic yogurt sauce. Talk about a stimulus package!

If you are one of the poor souls who doesn't know how to bake a potato, 1) you are no friend of mine, and 2) here's how to become my friend: turn your oven on to 400 degrees; take a potato, preferably a "Baking Potato," and scrub it under running water for a few seconds; get fancy if you want and slather that wet potato skin with salt; use a knife or fork to poke a few holes in the skin; put it in the oven for about 45 minutes (longer if you are baking multiple potatoes -- maybe about an hour); take it out of the oven; cut a big slit in it lengthwise and get creative with your toppings. Or use just a little bit of butter, salt, and pepper (just salt and pepper if you're watching your figure; just pepper if you're watching your sodium; just plain if you're a self-flagellating monk).

In conclusion, if we want to "get back to our values," as everyone keeps saying, the solution is really quite simple. Buy potatoes and bake them! Really, the slogan of the United Potato Growers of America can legitimately be "Country First." Let me break it down for you:

1) When you buy potatoes, you are "buying American." You really think we are dumb enough to import potatoes from China? Okay, maybe we are. But thankfully, we don't usually do that. In fact, we are the world's fifth largest exporter of potatoes.

2) Even so, supply is outweighing demand, which has caused potato prices to drop. Right now, that's good for you (on the other hand, price drops are usually compensated by federal subsidies, so consumers don't pay much less than they did before). And if we all start buying more potatoes, it'll be good for the farmers and good for the taxpayers!

3) Because they are so cheap, potatoes keep money in your pocket, which you can then stuff under your mattress. When your mattress becomes uncomfortable, you know it's time to hit the fire sales.

4) As Jane E. Brody so wisely enumerates, potatoes, as long as they're not scalloped or turned into fries, are good for your health. Lowered health care costs, my friends! Let's think long-term.

4 comments:

Mike Hernandez said...

You wrote an entire article on potatoes and you didn't even have one 'eye' joke?? Preposterous! You even had a poop joke in there...

Enoch212 said...

I love the potato. It can do and become so many things : French Fries,Potato Chips, A Sweet Potato with honey and brown sugar.

DEO said...

Mike: Eye jokes are way too risque for this audience.

Pete: Agreed! But french fries and potato chips have given the potato a bad rap, sadly. I should do another post all about the sweet potato, whose good-for-you-ness no one disputes!

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