Ever since I can remember, I’ve always thought potatoes were pretty gross. My cousin, Padraic, was usually able to convince me to eat them on major holidays. He showed me how to fill up my plate with them and douse them with butter and gravy, which worked out especially well for me because if my plate was full, I didn’t have to have my mother force meat onto my plate, which I also hated (this was during my pre-vegan days).
For many years I was lied to, being told that these dirty, starchy things were vegetables. I was told that they were a “healthy” carb. I think this really had more to do with my parents’ aversion to learning how to properly cook rice and unwillingness to purchase a rice cooker. Potatoes are originally indigenous to South America and were eaten in Éire by mostly wealthy people– in the beginning. Taters eventually became a staple meal for the poor, and as the few strains of the crop began to inbreed more and more, the genetic diversity became limited and when disease struck the majority of the crop went bad, leading almost all of the potatoes in Ireland to essentially spoil, poisoning and killing off nearly an entire nation. Another contributing factor of death by potato is that potatoes can easily become toxic, if overeaten or if they turn green. Potato toxicity can cause all kinds of screwy things to happen to the nervous system, thus affecting other organs and body systems. Can you say ‘diarrhea” and ‘death’ ? I bet the British did.
I wish someone had told my mother that potato toxicity IS possible. I also wish someone would have told her that it really wouldn’t kill her to add some garlic every once in a while to make this nasty mush a bit tastier. I think the only thing I hate more than potatoes is fried potatoes– AKA “fries”, “french fries”, “french-fried potatoes”, “freedom fries”, “chips”. These, sadly, are a staple meal in the Irish-American diet. I’ve also come to abhor what Americans refer to as “potato chips” or what the Irish refer to as “crisps”. I find fried foods, in general, to be rather detestable, so one can only imagine the extent to which I find any sort of fried spud to be an abomination against any sort of nutritional standard. Sometimes for Sunday brunch, my common law (yes, Pope Benedict! A man who I have never been married to in a Catholic Church who resides with me!) often makes tater tots, waffle fries, and other types of tubers covered in oil and spice. I’ve never smelled anything (with the exception of meat) that I have found to be as repulsive as these disgusting little murphies. When I blew out my birthday candles this year, I wished that he’d forget what potatoes were altogether. Needless to say, I have yet to see this wish granted. Much like other varieties of starches, fried spuds have little to no nutritional value (at least in my eyes) and just make Irish-Americans, and other varies of Americans FAT. F-A-T. Fat. And I still think they taste really, really gross.
The moral of the story here, kids, is don’t eat these things. Eat yams and sweet potatoes instead. They are rich in beta carotene and other vitamins in addition to tasting better overall. Sure, they aren’t really an Irish food, nor are they an Irish-American food, but they taste pretty damn good.