Mashed, baked, roast or fried... there's nothing like a potato<quoted text> Always have potatoes on hand. You can do so many things with them.
The question: "Do you want fries or a side salad with that?" may pose a challenge for some folks, but it's a no-brainer for me. I love my salad, but unless it's good, I prefer to go without. Conversely, mediocrity is hardly the worst thing that can happen to a French fry. A crueller fate is to be left uneaten.
The Atkins and Paleo diets, which promote a way of eating that best mimics the diets of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, are notoriously unforgiving toward carbs, and potatoes pick up a lot of flak where bread and pasta are not applicable. Potatoes, bread and pasta are also the three greatest emotional arguments in favour of carbs, as any well-rounded eater can attest.
Floury Idaho russets, dreamy, creamy Yukon golds and rosy, red bliss potatoes are the easiest to find year-round, although heirloom potatoes rule the roost when the season is right - and the season is nigh. These days, I troll the farmers' markets in search of saffron-fleshed fingerling potatoes and the deep purple Peruvian, a wildly gorgeous varietal from the Andes' highlands.
I remember being very young and reading somewhere about a village in Africa where the ground grows so hot during the summer that people can enjoy baked potatoes directly out of the ground.
This amazed my weird little brain enough to inspire an ambiguous phrase I abused for years: "[It's as hot] as an underground potato in Africa." Eventually, a caring elder pulled me aside to gently inform me that nobody had any idea what I was talking about. I later read that the African potato is not actually related to the common potato, but is a member of the mint family that includes other herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme and sage.
In those days, my favoured lunch to come home to after school was a casserole of roasted chicken and potatoes, heady with roasted garlic. Unless you're chucking your potatoes into a roasting dish (in which case, don't forget to add some carrots), where they can caramelise in the glory of a sizzling hen or a roast, it's crucial not to be neglectful with your preparation.
Every surface of a cut potato is a beauteous thing that must be addressed with salt, with heat, and with love.
Eating through a breakfast burrito can be pure drudgery or sheer bliss depending on how the cubes of potatoes have been treated: it's all about the ratio of potato skin to deep, dark crust, to satiny interior. The best roasted potatoes have crispy, craggy surfaces where seasonings can cling to them.
A similar logic applies to hash browns and home fries, the two most common variants of breakfast potatoes. The worst breakfast potatoes have smooth surfaces and are underseasoned and texturally homogenous. Just thinking about them makes my heart break a little. What did a defenceless little potato ever do to hurt anyone?
Nouf Al-Qasimi concurs, whoever the hell that is.