The Joy of Mashed Potatoes
Last night, for the first time in a long time I made mashed potatoes.
As I was leaning over the pot, adding lashings of butter and a sprinkle of salt, it hit me. That aroma. Of steaming hot, cooked potatoes. Comforting, familiar, evocative.
It sucked me straight down the rabbit hole, back to being a kid, at my grandma’s house. Family dinners that would just occur. One minute it would be just me and my sisters in the kitchen with our grandma ‘Dot’. Maybe Dad and my grandfather outside doing something around the farm. Then, as the shadows got longer and the light more golden; unannounced aunties and uncles would arrive, maybe some friends, maybe some neighbours. And all of a sudden the small farm kitchen, really only big enough for the table, would somehow allow for a sudden dinner of ten or more, and my amazing grandma would create a simple but delicious meal, unplanned, unannounced, with no fuss and no bother…
And invariably creamy, steamy, delicious mashed potatoes would make an appearance.
We’d all cram around the table with our portion of mash and a casserole perhaps. My grandfather would sit at the head of the table slicing crusty bread straight from the oven, stabbing it with a knife and jovially tossing it to anyone who wanted it.
I remember those dinners with lots of happiness. Simple meals, surrounded by warmth and family.
After dinner my sisters and I would follow the light of Dad’s cigarette through the darkness and across the paddock back to our house.
As I got a little older and tried my hand at making mash for my discerning father, I discovered that it takes some skill to whip those things into clouds of creamy deliciousness.
The trick is, it has to be creamy, smooth, free from lumps, but thick. Mine would always be too lumpy. I thought adding more milk was the trick, but this didn’t get rid of the lumps, it just made it thinner… What I lacked was elbow grease.
Dad would watch me and then with growing frustration eventually take over saying “Here, give it to me.” He’d then use all the might of his arm and massive hands, weathered and hardened from a life on the land to make those potatoes obey.
I knew I’d nailed it when Dad would raise one eyebrow with appreciation as he downed a spoonful of my mash, which made me want to punch the air and yell, ‘yes’!
...And all that happened in the blink of an eye as I leant over those steaming spuds.
>>> Leonie Orton (who sometimes likes to talk about herself in the third person) is a writer, editor and marketing communications consultant. She'll create communication mediums in the shape of words, graphics and webs for your business, connecting you with the people who need you. Get in touch by email, facebook or twitter. And if you're not already signed up for new writings and special offers, get hooked up here.