The humble potato is the underdog of the vegetable world, often overlooked in favour of the flamboyant carrot or the brainy cauliflower. In a superficial world where appearance counts for far more than it should, the rather plain looking potato often misses out on the collective gushing other, sexier, fruit and vegetables enjoy, but what it lacks in aesthetics, it more than makes up for it with versatility. If you had to write a Tinder profile for any vegetable, the potato one would write itself. The only problem it has, is a lack of good PR.
There are so many tweets and Instagram comments devoted to avocados, the bad boy of the salad aisle, that I can only imagine it shares the same PR bods as Romesh Ranganathan. I’ll tell you this now, this overrated fruit doesn’t give a tiny shit about you. Like cats, they get a good press. Like cats, they don’t deserve it. We have short memories and have collectively wiped the avocado bathroom suite of 70s fame from our minds, but not I. Being Indian and also poor, our avocado bathroom enjoyed a longer life than its peers. Even when it did eventually depart, it wasn’t without a fight. It took weeks to chisel the last of the tiles off, that appeared to have been stuck on by a max strength superglue I have yet to source. The fruit itself is no less of a nuisance. Like that emotionally stunted boy you fancied in school who gave nothing away, the avocado gives no hint at its ripeness. Its slightly slimy interior is difficult to get to without things getting messy. IT LITERALLY HAS A HEART OF STONE and 5 minutes after it’s reached its potential, it’ll be dead, and you’ll have paid a fortune just to put it in the bin, then lie on Facebook about how much you’re enjoying your avocado on toast. ‘Yum!’
I propose a change of thought. A campaign to stop our shallow view of food and really look beyond the bright colours and sexy foliage to what’s inside and the answer is a fluffy heart of deliciousness. The potato won’t make you work for it. You can do literally anything to it and it’ll still not just be edible, but reliable. Show me a person who doesn’t like chips. No really, SHOW me. I too would like to look into the eyes of pure unadulterated evil and ask how it came to this. Who hurt you bro? Because the chip is a mighty thing, a beautiful thing, something to appreciate and savour. Only 40% of an avocado is edible, if you catch it during the 30 second window when it’s ripe. The potato will blow your mind with every part of its body. Just Google the story about the priest who ‘fell’ on a potato.
Peel? You can EAT the skin. You can just cut it up into wedges. You can mash the fuck out of it, relieve your stress at the same time, then eat it. You can literally stick it on heat in any form and it’ll reward you with a meal. Best of all, you can eat it on a date, safe in the knowledge that it won’t be clinging to your teeth as you flash a smile at your potential partner. What is not to like? Even the word is sexy if said in an Irish accent. The potato doesn’t blow its own trumpet, so it’s time someone else did. I am proud to step up to the dinnerplate and say I am its biggest champion and frankly, you joyless cauliflower couscous worshippers need to realise you’re being brainwashed. Can a cauliflower pull off a jacket? Can it fuck. You’d laugh it out of Tesco.It’s not even quite cauliflower as we know it, it’s definitely not couscous, it’s a hot mess and it’s time we were honest with ourselves. I would like to give a well earned shout out to the aubergine here though, for accepting its limitations in taste and setting its sights on cornering the emoji market. A gamble, but one that’s paid off. The aubergine has reinvented itself. The aubergine is the Madonna of vegetables.
Two of the people I dislike most in this world are Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Atkins. I feel ever so slightly insulted by a woman who chooses to attend an awards ceremony dressed as a funnel draped in pink satin, lecturing me on the dangers of carbohydrates. Now I may not share her youthful appearance or her healthy bank balance, but what good is any of that if you can’t eat a mountain of potato wedges until you have to change into trousers with an elasticated waist and lie down in a carb coma, sweating mash from your pores, with no regrets? Yes, she looks better in a doily than me, yes she can calmly uncouple from the dullest man in showbiz without him running straight to the rags to tell them about her wheatgrass sarong and rice paper hammock, yes she can cry pretilly without looking like a slowly deflating party balloon, but she will never ever know the joys of the late night McDonalds dash after the pub. So to be honest, she can keep it. As for Atkins, I’ll leave it upto you to guess my thoughts on a man who advocates eliminating the best food group. The monster.
Imagine a Goop newsletter where you tell harassed working parents that you can just fry a vegetable or bake it, and literally bung on whatever you like, hot beans, cold coleslaw, salad, cheese, whatever’s in the fridge, just whack it in. Sliced too thick? CHIPS! Sliced too thin? CRISPS! Too unhealthy? SWEET POTATO! Too heavy for salads? NEW POTATO! Your kids will almost certainly love it (if they don’t, you should start preparing yourself for their inevitable prison stretch at some point in the future) and you will still have time to do the ironing and washing and shouting or whatever it is parents do. Everyone will love you. I may do this.
Perhaps my love for spuds stems from the fact that from certain angles, I bear an uncanny resemblance to a Jersey Royal. It is a flattering comparison and I wish more people would make it (although it makes my love for them slightly incestuous and cannibalistic.) After all, Mr and Mrs Potatohead managed to bag starring roles in mainstream hit films and are celebrities in their own right. For all its superficial beauty, even the artichoke and asparagus have failed to reach such dizzying heights. Slow and steady wins the race and the plain potato has proved to us all that beauty is only skin deep. Let that be a lesson to us. All hail the King Edward!