why i like potatoes so much
You may have noticed, but I rather like potatoes. I’m intrigued by the characteristics of different varieties. I like that the flavour can be earthy yet light. That there are great recipes for all seasons. That it’s the backbone of so many Western meals. And it’s in the roast potato that I get most intrigued. That balance between crisp and soft, with the perfect surface for taking on gravy. Now that reminds me…
You probably have some childhood routines in your house that you assume everybody has. It’s not until you get older it dawns on you not every family has these same rituals. And not just the special occasions, but also the ordinary. For me, I was amazed to learn not everybody had a roast dinner every Sunday. But we did.
I can’t remember a single Sunday growing up where there wasn’t a joint of meat on the table – served at 2pm every week – whether it was pork, chicken, lamb or beef; always served with piles of vegetables; always Yorkshire puddings (oh yes, not just for beef) and pints of Bisto gravy. And of course, roast potatoes. And my Mum did the whole lot. I helped her peel the carrots and mix the Yorkshire pudding batter, but everything else was her job and that’s the way it was. From buying the ingredients, to spending most of Sunday morning with The Waltons on in the background getting everything timed to perfection. Every week the meat dripping was saved in a small blue piece of Tupperware ready to go on next week’s potatoes. Well, it was saved if it could be hidden well enough from my Dad trying to spread it on bread. And Sunday night also meant there was a foil-covered plate in the fridge crinkly with leftovers ripe for grazing; a few cold slices, the odd potato.
Mum’s roast potatoes were nuggets of brilliance. My strongest childhood memories are of that Sunday dinner table. I’m certain that’s why I like potatoes – and cooking in general – so much. I’ve tried as a grown-up myself to bring that Sunday roast back but it really is difficult trying to balance the rest of life, commitments and demands to make sure that happens. I don’t quite know how Mum did it week in, week out.
My Mum passed away in October. The last meal I cooked for her included potatoes – BBQ wedges, since you ask. I won’t get the chance to enjoy her roast potatoes again. I’ll just have to keep on making them on my own, building on her basics, aiming a little higher each time. And keep remembering her through my cooking, and that she inspired me to love through food and cooking, and keep spreading that joy.