Saturday, November 27, 2010

Potatoes: Too Much to Ask For?

Photo (c) Uncharted/Great Divide Media LLC)

I'm beginning to realize that there are two types of potato people in my family: Those, from the Davidson side, who grew up with meals centered on the potato, and those from the Griffin side who grew up with meals not centered on the potato.

I'm patr of the Davidson side, obviously, given that I'm generally shaped like a potato. Dad, an immigrant to the United States from the Netherlands, grew up on the humble spud and, as a result, cooked them by the bushel as we were in turn growing up ourselves. We had boiled or mashed potatoes at least three or four times a week, and most certainly and most abundantly on holidays.

The Griffins, however, don't seem to hold the potato in high regard. I love my in-laws tremendously, but as far as potatoes, they have a lot to learn. For Thanksgiving at the Davidsons, it wasn't uncommon to have a huge vat of mashed potatoes on the table with an emergency backup vat of potatoes on the stove, awaiting a special aerial lift from stove to table when the first vat invariably ran out. At the Griffins, what passes for an entire meal's worth of mashed potato would be considered, in the Davidson household, a single serving. So much to my chagrin this Thanksgiving did I see the tiny blop of spuds left available to us after we arrived late to dinner and even more chagrined after I served the kids and then saw the last bit go to my wife. So I was completely surrounded by NO POTATOES this Thanksgiving.

I don't want to sound ungrateful. They have many other delectable delights at dinner: Stuffed mushrooms. Amish green beans cooked with bacon. But I like me a good mound of mashed potato.

I felt exactly like Rincewind the Wizzard from Terry Pratchett's "Interesting Times." He spent so much time marooned on an island that he developed an inhuman craving for potatoes and, just as he found a way to indulge that craving, he was taken back to the city of Ankh Morpork by the magic of his fellow wizards, viz:
The coconut stayed where it was, but Rincewind's eyes swivelled madly from side to side.

Three figures stepped into his line of vision. They were obviously female. They were abundantly female. They were not wearing a great deal of clothing and seemed to be altogehter too fresh-from-the-hairdressers for people who have just been paddling a large war canoe, but this is often the case with beautiful Amazonian warriors.

A thin trickle of coconut milk began to dribble off the end of Rincewind's beard.

The leading woman brushed aside her long blonde hair and gave him a bright smile.

"I know this sounds a little unlikely," she said, "but I and my sisters here represent a hitherto undiscovered tribe whose menfolk were recently destroyed in a deadly but short-lived and highly specific plague. Now we have been searching these islands for a man to enable us to carry on our line."

"How much do you think he weighs?"

Rincewind's eyebrows raised. The woman looked down shyly.

"You may be wondering why we are all blonde and white-skinned when everyone else in the islands around here is dark," she said. "It just seems to be one of those genetic things."

"About 120, 125 pounds. Put another pound or two of junk on the heap. Er. Can you detect . . . you know . . . IT?"

"This is all going to go wrong, Mr. Stibbons. I just know it."

"He's only six hundred miles away and we know where we are, and he's on the right half of the Disc. Anyway, I've worked this out on Hex so nothing can possibly go wrong."

"Yes, but can anyone see . . . that  . .  you know. . . with the . . . feet?"

Rincewind's eyebrows waggled. A sort of choking noise came from his throat.

"Can't see . . . it. Will you lot stop huffing on my crystal ball?"

"And, of course, if you were to come with us we could promise you . . . earthly and sensual pleasures such as those of which you may have dreamed . . ."

"All right. On the count of three --"

The coconut dropped away. Rincewind swallowed. There was a hungry, dreamy look in his eyes.

"Can I have them mashed?" he said.

I feel your pain, Rincewind. I feel your pain.

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