I have no potatoes in the house, and now I am craving potatoes

All because I read The Angry Chef’s praise for the potato.

Potatoes are quite possibly my favourite ever thing. No, fuck it, they are my favourite thing. They are versatile, delicious, cheap, and accessible. From a culinary and scientific point of view they are deeply fascinating and they form the basis of many of my favourite foods. Cooked correctly, they can make the heart sing with joy. My reputation as a chef is, perhaps quite tragically, built on a number of remarkable dishes that I make with potatoes. I have spent many working days perfecting my potato cookery and after twenty years in professional kitchens I am still learning more about them all the time. I believe that I know how to make the perfect roast potatoes, crisped the the point of near caramelisation on the outside, with a light fluffy interior, a hint of thyme and the richness of beef fat. I can make mashed potato so silky, rich, buttery and creamy that it once made someone cry. I have spent an entire week trying to make the the perfect chips (they are good, but not perfect – yet) and it makes me genuinely weep inside when someone cooks a jacket potato in the microwave. I love dauphinoise, Lyonnaise, rostis, sautéed, Bombay, crisps, waffles, hash browns (basically working class rostis), croquettes, gnocchi and Patatas Bravas. I love cottage pies and hotpots and believe that potatoes slowly cooked with meats often become more delicious than the meat itself. When made well, freshly cooked chips are as much of a cause for celebration as the flash, needy offerings of Michelin starred restaurants and superstar chefs. When eaten out of paper by the sea they are the greatest culinary pleasure I know.

But potatoes are bland, you say — not when they’re cooked with the right spices. And what better spice is there than brutal denunciations of the paleo diet and other stupid fads?

Potatoes are a delicious, with remarkable culinary and nutritional properties. So why is it that health bloggers, Paleo nuts, wellness gurus and various other dietary fools reject them so vociferously? The reasons behind this beautifully exposes the hidden and pernicious nature of dietary wellness trends. In understanding why potatoes are rejected we reveal the true face of the wellness industry, an industry built on lies and false promises.

The pseudoscience and nutri-bollocks behind fad diets is nothing but a smokescreen to disguise their true nature. The reality of Clean Eating, Paleo, Alkaline and Detox is that they are damaging restriction diets, more about thinness than wellness. Whilst they talk about a lifestyle and wellbeing, these are just euphemisms for weight loss, driven by societies permitted fat-shaming prejudice and an insatiable desire to achieve thinness without effort.

Fad diets will proliferate if they have simple rules and pseudoscience justifications to help them stick in people’s minds, but examine them in detail and the logic falls apart. Take Paleo for instance, based on the premise that we are not ‘designed’ to eat certain foods. Newsflash genius, not sure if you missed the memo about Darwin and Wallace, but we are not ‘designed’ to do anything and neither is any part of the natural world. We evolved from a random sequence of evolutionary accidents, existing only because certain characteristics keep us marginally ahead in the arms race of existence. Nature is not pure and benign, it has no wisdom and it does not exist to nourish us and help us thrive. Nature is vicious, harmful and for thousands of years has been trying to fucking kill us. In the Palaeolithic period it was far better at doing this, with survival beyond thirty being extremely unlikely. Our ability to control the natural world, to process and store foods and to adapt our environment to meet our requirements is the one thing that has kept our head above the evolutionary waters and saved us from the miserable fate that befell every other hominid species in history.

Read the whole thing, as they say.


  1. says

    Taters are probably my most favoritest food, however pedestrian that may sound. German cuisine does marvelous things with them, from taters fried in butter with rosemary (Germans don’t do garlic, much), to latkes slathered with raspberry preserves and fresh whipped cream. I think taters may just be the proof some people need that paradise was in the New World. ;-)

  2. Matrim says

    Eh, potatoes are okay. The taste is fine (usually) but I can’t stand the texture. I can do thin potatoes (potato chips, thin fries, etc.) but anything with substantial deposits of potato (baked, mashed, steak fries, etc.) I could do entirely without.

  3. blf says

    The only potatoes — and for that matter, garlic — in the lair I currently know of are the ones in my digestive system: Upon entering, they were essentially mashed, mixed with grated garlic and onions (sautéd together in butter), blued cheese, an egg, a dash of olive oil, a bit moar butter, and soured milk.

  4. wzrd1 says

    I cook russets until they’re creaming in consistency and nearly orgasmic in experience.

    In the morning, I carb load, that involves potatoes, as rice and wheat are nearly instantly digested and I’m hungry again.
    Lunch, a light meal, dinner, a carb load again, typically potatoes.

    The reason is simple enough, sleep takes a long time without nutrition, I need those carbs.
    As one who has a familial history of, erm, girth issues, I do watch what I eat. As type 2 diabetes is linked to our BMI and I’m the eldest male from my father’s line to remain non-diabetic well into my mid-50’s, while a small sample size, I suggest success in my limited constraints.

    Morning: potato patty or similar equivalent of potato (middling russet or similar). The rest will likely involve some leftover meat or breakfast meat, in smallish quantity (figure three to four strips of half strips of bacon or three sausage links (finger sausages), whatever (oatmeal, eggs, fish, something or other).
    Lunch is frequently leftover dinner, modified a little for quantity on occasion.
    Dinner is a much larger carb load, typically potatoes, greens a plenty, salad when my wife remembers (making it a perfect day for me), whatever meat was chosen. The latter, typically being pork or lamb. That said, I’ve made a killer tofu based lasagna. It gave the carb load for sleep time and assorted micronutrients, as my pasta sauce is hand crafted by myself.

    Said sauce is simplicity itself for an accomplished cook/chef, it’s to taste. Want it sweeter, add onion, plenty of garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, chili peppers, basil. I typically cook up batches in two gallon quantities or so.
    Either freeze down the sauce in quarts or pressure cooker them. I also typically cook down either pork or lamb, depending upon my audience, in a different pot for each, again, audience preferred, until the meat falls off of the bones.
    I’m also infamous for using goat meat.
    Dad never learned that he loved goat meat…. ;)
    Annoyingly, he got most of it. :/
    I’ve also used oxtails.
    Whatever took my fancy or was on special.

    And no, no fixed quantities for any ingredient. Pepper to taste, garlic to preference/usage, onion, the same, basil always generous.
    Oregano is for pizzas. :)

  5. komarov says

    Take Paleo for instance, based on the premise that we are not ‘designed’ to eat certain foods.

    Oh, would this be a good time to advertise my new Carbon Diet? Basically we are, like all life, designed to extract chemical energy from carbohydrates. Carbon and water contain all the vital elements: C, H, O, N plus valuable trace elements like arsenic and other goodies, when mined from coal deposits.* Predating the paleo diet by [Age of the universe +/- a few gigayears], the Carbon Diet is so low tech you know it must be even better for you. Aside from the standard supplements you will also be able to buy carbon pellets enriched with 13C or 14C as well as deuterated and tritiated water to prepare your meals, giving you that extra energy only exotic sounding science jargon like ‘isotopes’ can provide.

    And before you ask: Of course there will be a variety of options to choose from. For example we will also be offering bio-certified, GMO-free charcoal from happy free-range trees that is suitable even for vegetarians and vegans. Our products are free from all allergens (except possibly nuts), are gluten free, halal and can be consumed on any day of the week without breaking any commandments.** If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Carbon Diet, please consults with one of our board-certified Carbologists, who can also help you create your own personalised nutritional plan.

    And while I enjoy a good potato as much as the next person, in the end it’s really just low-grade coal riddled with impurities. Why settle for that when you could go Carbon instead?

    *That’s why god put all that coal in the ground for us to find: cheap dehydrated food for the poor. Just add water and you have a delicious broth.
    **Legal disclaimer: Fickle pontiffs may disagree.

  6. blf says

    I’ve also used oxtails.

    Yes. My own usage of oxtails (ox detach, of course) is perhaps a bit boring (sounding, that is, taste is great!), in soup.

    And no, no fixed quantities for any ingredient.

    Oh yes, yes! I speculate this is one reason I mostly cannot bake anything (at least from scratch), I almost never measure and treat recipes as hints or guidelines. The results can be spectacular. Fortunately, frequently also edible.

  7. says

    ‘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…’

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

    ‘Can I have them mashed?’ he said.

  8. mithrandir says

    Starting with a nitpick:

    But potatoes are bland, you say — not when they’re cooked with the right spices.

    So uh, potatoes aren’t bland when they’re cooked with something that isn’t bland? :)

    I would rather say, potatoes are a canvas – a substrate for other ingredients to showcase their full flavor, altering the texture of those other favors slightly without overwhelming them. A blank canvas is bland, but where would the Mona Lisa be without the canvas it is painted on?

    Now, on to the actual science content of the article. The rejection of potatoes by the fad diets, at best, is a reflection of the emerging concept of low-carb replacing low-fat as the preferred mode of weight loss. But a rational approach to low-carb would recognize that carbohydrates are still an essential part of human nutrition – just one that we may need less of than is present in a lot of common dishes. The right answer is to eat less potato in one sitting, not abandon it entirely – and to make sure there is sufficient protein and fat to go with it.

  9. chrisdevries says

    I grew some red potatoes in the garden this year. We used to have raspberries in that spot (for almost 30 years) but the last 5 years or so they had been dying back a bit more every year (we never figured out why…nutrient issues are the best guess), so last fall I pulled up the canes and used potatoes this summer for the primary purpose of breaking up the soil (they did a fine job). We were going to try and get blueberry bushes or something there next summer but the potatoes have been so delicious and plentiful (40 square ft produced over 100 lbs of taters) that I think we are splitting the area next year, maybe a 10 sq ft for potatoes and the rest for some kind of berry.

    I welcome suggestions on what to do with all of these freaking potatoes (besides giving a lot away, which I’ve been doing already). One possible idea I had was to make a couple massive batches of perogies (when I’ve done this in the past I usually aim for 15-dozen, but I might be making 2-3 times that number this fall). Perogies are a great solution because they keep pretty much indefinitely in the freezer and can be boiled and then fried (or just boiled but they’re so much better if you do both) for a delicious meal or starter. Perogies work best with old potatoes though so I’m going to have to wait a month before commencing, and I’d like to start using the potatoes like, now! Baking and boiling are great for single meals, and I plan to do hash browns as well sometime, but I am looking for bulk solutions that can go into the freezer for the future.

  10. wzrd1 says

    @ komarov, well, hard coal is very, *very* good at filtering domestic water supplies.
    With that much water flowing over it, it’s *got* to be clean! ;)

    It ain’t what is used, it’s *how* it’s used.

    @blf, I do quite well at baking as well. Proportions are important there, rising ingredient vs other ingredients. :)
    But, recipes are indeed guidelines, once one learns the rules of the craft. Moisture preservation via fat addition, leavening, etc.
    I only had one disaster, a salmon and tomato dish that even the dog turned up, total misjudgement. Never repeated.
    Misjudged the type of fat in the salmon skin, badly.
    Supertasting, minus nose ability does make for interesting spice experiences, I have to actually put the spice onto my tongue to sense it. Think of that and sumac.
    A dangerous word in lands that natively speak Arabic, as it sounds a lot like some mention of the listener’s nether regions, to be specific, genitalia. Hence, a great insult.
    It literally took a full five minutes of a close Arabic speaking friend and I to figure out our way through that linguistic gaffe.
    As I’m the *only* human that his mom would cook with in a kitchen, he was quite well prepared to listen. :)
    She recognized a chef and a peer group of Italian-American and serious taste “foodie”.
    A few recipe comparisons did that, along with some familial lineage things (few, save Italians will ask “what part of Italy did your family come from”).
    Oddly, she was outside of my Sicilian-American birth region, but accepted my recipes. :)

  11. Becca Stareyes says

    That is a good point. It’s easy to persuade ourselves that our ancestors considered grains too much of a hassle pre-agriculture* because they take work in ways, say, a green pepper or piece of kale** doesn’t to be edible and they are so little before we bred things like sweet corn. But tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes? Heck yeah, our paleolitic ancestors would be eating well that day. Hell, if one of them wandered through a time portal, they probably would be able to recognize the bag of potatoes I bought as easily as the green peppers*** and probably think the former would be a better meal.

    That and potatoes are wonderful. I was just thinking how much I enjoy baked potatoes, and what a wonderful leftover ingredient they are.

    * Except they obviously didn’t, or we wouldn’t have started growing them and selecting for grains with better properties.
    ** Okay, I tend to regard kale as one of those foods that does take work to be edible. Too many farm share boxes where the first month is ‘hope you like greens’. But some people apparently like raw kale.
    *** Well, okay, my ancestors were from the Eastern Hemisphere, so wouldn’t know what a potato or green pepper was. But they would recognize ‘starchy tuber’ and ‘green fruit’.

  12. wzrd1 says

    @Becca Stareyes #12, I’d *love* kale. Alas, it’s of the menu for me, due to hyperthyroidism.
    To the point where I’d actually have a real concern with my aorta rupturing.
    All, while enjoying a yearning for such deep, dark, green leaves to eat.
    Kale was #1 in avoid foods, when I was started on dietary control, plus pharmacological control of the hyperthyroidism.
    Pity, I was, quite literally, going to try some the following week after my specialist’s appointment.

  13. blf says

    I welcome suggestions on what to do with all of these freaking potatoes

    Potatoe Jam? (tongue-in-cheek)

    I rather doubt think there is such a thing, but in doing a quick check, found there is something called “sweet potato jam” (which would not be appropriate, and which apparently is not suitable for canning / preserving). There is also Heston Blumenthal’s potato milk jam, which is actually a dulce de leche with added potato skins. Interesting, but not too helpful.

  14. wzrd1 says

    Potatoes in brine, pressure cooked. We see the modern product as “new potatoes” in cans.
    Brine and cooking does change consistency, stiffening the potato.

    Still, useful in something like chicken and new potatoes. Baked together, with rosemary and garlic. If adventurous, adding peas in, with their liquid from their can and for us, tomatoes from a can.
    There are always possibilities, you’d have to go back into older recipes to see how to utilize older potatoes that were harvested late and stored.
    That’s one of the reasons that I collect old recipe books. :)

  15. naturalcynic says

    nits to pick:
    Becca: You do have the right idea that we humans were hunter gatherers in Paleolithic times. Gathering did include digging up tubers for hundreds of thousands of years. However, remember that we came from the Old World so the tubers we now use were limited to yams beets, turnips and some others [or the precursors of these current crops]. But we did not evolve while eating the New World tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes and cassava.
    There is a need for moderation, eating excess potatoes is very easy and doing that does have probably one of the greatest influences on becoming a Type 2 diabetic.

  16. wzrd1 says

    @ gijoel #16, pretty much.
    What was found was eaten. What we call wheat was grass. Tuber foods, much smaller.
    I did a survival course, voluntary, as it wasn’t required for my MOS.
    I learned a lot during that starvation course. I also was one of the singular men who gained weight during the course, due to an odd conflict with a a wild boar and myself. I was treed, it was poked with an improvised spear.
    It bled itself to death.
    Many, many hours later, I was assured that the animal was dead and availed myself of the meat.
    Using smuggled in salt and sugar packets inside of mt pockets for preservatives.
    Made many a fly friend as the critter chunks dried on my pack.

    I don’t recommend that experiment be repeated. Things went sideways after.

  17. says

    Oh, I love potatoes. Love, love, love them. A recent favourite:


    3 tablespoons butter (not margarine)
    1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
    1 cup shallot, finely minced
    1 teaspoon garlic powder or fresh garlic
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 pounds potatoes
    1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
    2 teaspoons sugar (optional)


    Peel the potatoes and slice into roughly half-inch by 1-inch by 1-inch pieces. Place in a pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Boil until fork tender, but not overdone. Unlike more starchy potatoes, these will hold up well when folded with the butter, but not if overcooked. Melt/brown butter over medium-high heat. When the bubbles subside, reduce heat to medium; add shallots and cook for 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir until shallots are golden, about 5 minutes longer. Add sage, white balsamic vinegar, garlic and sugar; stir until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Stir shallot-sage mixture into potatoes. Season with salt. Drain potatoes and drizzle on the browned butter mixture (or however much of it you please), then fold it all gently together.

    Courtesy of Wozupi Tribal Gardens. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. If you’re ever out that way, you should stop by.

  18. blf says

    Peel the potatoes…

    Ok, I give up: Why do people do this?

    I am NOT talking about cutting away the green sections (a proxy for high alkaloid levels) or similar, but removing the covering. Thick or elderly(?) skin is a problem in some dishes (e.g., mashed or soup), but, at least in my opinion, by-and-large there is little-to-no point in peeling. The skins also address, in part, the “bland” criticism of the taste some people make, and can address the texture criticism as well.

    I am aware there are assorted claims about potato skins and nutrition (e.g., the most nutritious part of the potato (whatever that means)), but am suspicious what seems like a urban legend. And in any case, if there is some trvth to that, then again, why peel?

  19. Big Boppa says

    My wife, a child of Polish immigrants, is a master of potato cookery. My favorite is roasted potatoes that are caramalized brown on the outside and as silky as cream cheese inside.

    And to chrisdevrie @10. My wife serves potato pierogi with caramelized onions that are cooked in butter until they are as dark and sweet as molasses and topped with toasted bread crumbs that she insists will only come out right in her grandmother’s 95 year old cast iron skillet. Not something you should eat every day but oh momma, it’s so good.

  20. says

    I like to cut up a few Idaho potatoes, skin on, and deep fry them in our deep fryer with fresh oil. Sometimes, a few battered pieces of cod get thrown in afterwords. A light sprinkle of salt and that’s dinner. Add a Brandy old fashioned for a real treat. Dinner Wisconsin style!

  21. archangelospumoni says

    Read The Botany of Desire about spuds, weed, tulips, apples. Michael Pollan.

    Enlightening, entertaining, infuriating, etc.

  22. chigau (違う) says

    When the potatoes are from my own garden or from a garden known to me,
    I just scrub off the dirt.

    If they are store-bought potatoes from …. somewhere, I peel them.

  23. chrisdevries says

    Sounds delicious Big Boppa; I usually just shallow-fry pre-boiled potato and extra-sharp cheddar perogies in butter and canola oil, and occasionally serve with caramelized onions (sometimes I just want the perogies though, they’re amazing on their own or with a bit of sour cream). I’ve heard of people deep-frying perogies, and while that sounds extraordinary, I have no deep-frier, and doing it manually is messy as hell. Sometime I’ll give it a shot though!

    My perogy recipe comes from my Ukrainian grandmother, virtually unchanged; simple recipe, yes, but basically my favourite food, and that hasn’t changed since I was in pre-school. Amazing how just 3 ingredients and some water, butter and oil can result in such a heavenly experience.

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    I’ve heard that 20 lb potatoes, 2 lb of crushed malted barley, some yeast, fresh water, and various bits of hardware can result in something rather interesting after a couple of weeks.

  25. The Mellow Monkey says

    This is my jam right here. Potatoes are one of the greatest glories of the garden. My current favorite is mashed potatoes using reds, sweet potatoes, sour cream, black-strap molasses, and paprika. The ratio of sweet to red should be one part to three parts by weight. Just enough molasses for the flavor to compliment the sweet potatoes, but not enough to actually make it sweet. The sourness of the sour cream instead of using butter helps, too.


    However, remember that we came from the Old World so the tubers we now use were limited to yams beets, turnips and some others [or the precursors of these current crops]. But we did not evolve while eating the New World tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes and cassava.

    Some of us had ancestors eating those particular tubers for quite a long time. Populations change pretty quickly in response to dietary changes.

  26. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Potatoes, unfortunately. have this problem where they have a potato-like texture.

  27. Menyambal says

    I had mashed potatoes today. One of my favorite foods.

    I will microwave potatoes to “bake” them, just because it’s easy, but I’ve taken to steaming whole potatoes instead. A nice scrub, nick off any bad spots, and a big steamer ’til they’re soft. I keep a big batch in the fridge, for further cooking or just heating up with butter.

    I am always careful to peel off any green, which to me pretty much refutes that silly idea that nutrients are nearest the skin. Obviously, poison defenses would be nearest the skin, with the nutrients safely inside. I think that rumour got started so that people wouldn’t waste potato by peeling thick. (I peel with a knife, and it’s something to keep in mind.)

  28. rq says

    Everything is going according to plan.

    Potatoes are also good for socialization, as proven by the annual family reunion during the potato talka, where all issues are resolved standing knee-deep in the mud of the potato field.

  29. rq says


    I’ve heard that 20 lb potatoes, 2 lb of crushed malted barley, some yeast, fresh water, and various bits of hardware can result in something rather interesting after a couple of weeks.

    Have you tried that at home yet? If yes, results, please?

  30. wzrd1 says

    Have you tried that at home yet? If yes, results, please?

    The most likely results would be a no so friendly visit from BATFE agents, who have an intense dislike of untaxed ethanol production. :/

  31. Dunc says

    But potatoes are bland, you say

    Some varieties are quite flavoursome, actually.

    I welcome suggestions on what to do with all of these freaking potatoes

    Keep ’em somewhere dark, cool, and humid, and use as needed. Maincrop potatoes will store quite happily for months. They don’t need to be processed for storage.

  32. birgerjohansson says

    “I welcome suggestions on what to do with all of these freaking potatoes”

    In “Star Diaries” (the adventures of Ijon Tichy) the eponymous cosmonaut hunts down multi-tentacled things in orbit that turn out to be mutated space potatoes.

    These may be the descendants of the potatoes you launched into space (Ijon Tichy had a time machine, explaining why we can read his book).

  33. birgerjohansson says

    ” The potatoes you launched into space” obviously refers to your future but Tichy’s past.

  34. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    The most likely results would be a no so friendly visit from BATFE agents, who have an intense dislike of untaxed ethanol production. :/

    (1) It’s not the production, it’s the distillation. They don’t care about the homebrew in my basement.
    (b) The BATFE is only a concern for Rob if he lives in the US. Of course, other countries may have similar regulations.

  35. multitool says

    > Take Paleo for instance, based on the premise that we are not ‘designed’ to eat certain foods.

    Semantics. Ok evolved, not designed. Does this mean we can eat broken glass and drain-O now?

    Ooo, or maybe some things are good for us and others are not.

    Yeah paleo diet is BS as someone said it seems to be based on the Flintstones, but jumping from that to ‘completely disregard observations of nature’ is just as stupid.

  36. Derek Vandivere says

    #9 Mithrindir:

    Where would the Mona Lisa be without the canvas it is painted on?

    The Mona Lisa isn’t painted on a canvas. It’s a panel painting. I apologize for the pedantry, but my wife is a paintings restorer…

  37. Derek Vandivere says

    #37 / multitool:

    The way I think of it is that our bodies evolved to use the environment back then as well as possible; that doesn’t necessarily mean that the environment back then was the optimal environment for our bodies. I really have to figure out a better way of putting that…

  38. tbtabby says

    I read this on my phone…at Five Guys. Suddenly their enormous servings of french fries don’t seem so overwhelming.

  39. Rob Grigjanis says

    rq @31: No, I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m not ruling out the possibility. Unlike civilized countries like New Zealand (and Italy, I think), Canada still has laws against home distillation. However, as far as I can tell, prosecutions are only made if you try and sell your product.

  40. davidnangle says

    Years ago I marveled to my friend about the wondrous variety of the potato. He looked at me through squinty eyes and said, “Oh, yeah. You’re Irish, aren’t you.”

  41. rq says

    If you’re not selling it, there’s nothing to be taxed, right? ;)


    Keep ’em somewhere dark, cool, and humid, and use as needed.

    … But not too humid, a basement or lower-level kitchen cupboard infrequently used is usually pretty good. They’ll keep throughout the winter, which is rather nice, since you eat the last of the previous season just as the new potatoes are coming in.
    (Carrots and most other root vegetables will keep for extended periods of time in similar conditions, too.)

  42. anbheal says

    Duck is a very pleasant thing. But the REAL reason to spend that 18 bucks and four hours is to get the rendered duck fat. And then use it to roast potatoes in.

    OK, also to fry quail eggs in. Or chicken eggs. Or duck eggs.

    But mostly to roast potatoes in.

    And as for sweet potato jam? It is definitely a thing. In Mexico.

    Finally, take a peek at Kenji Lopez-Alt’s version of potatoes au gratin, in The Food Lab. Arranging the slices vertically rather than horizontally. A béchamel takes no time at all, but feel free to use any old cheese in your fridge, and sprinkle with Kraft. It’s the vertical arrangement that takes it to a higher plane. Makes you believe in the Flying Potato God.

  43. frog says

    Potatoes have but a single purpose: To serve as the perfect vehicle for fat and salt. This can be in many forms, with many additions, but they are the best base for this combination.

    As for their own taste… I grew potatoes in my garden for the first time this year, and there is no comparison between homegrown and store bought. Potatoes have a taste, and it varies with the variety, and in all ways it is superior when you’ve transported the potato a few dozen feet instead of miles and miles.

    (Even from your backyard, potatoes have to sit around for a while for the skins to toughen. There isn’t any sort of force-ripening that can happen on potatoes, either. But the taste is still superior.)

  44. says

    @#36 – What a Maroon

    They don’t care about the homebrew in your basement because it is specifically allowed by law. Distillation is specifically DISallowed by law, beyond scientific uses. Distilled ethanol for consumption is a big no-no. Although, with the popularity of home and craft brewing, there is a movement to change those laws.

  45. wzrd1 says

    @47 – drksky, I should have tagged my joke that started this thread.
    Typically, BATFE ignores people making micro batches at home, as the lost taxation is minimal and the cost of prosecution is excessive.
    There’s a healthy market for small stills, I even see them on Amazon from time to time.
    So, unless one is making casks and casks full of bootleg hooch, one would only have to deal with one’s significant other over both the odor and the hijacking of the bathtub. ;)

    But, when one is licensed to distill spirits in the US, the bookkeeping is onerous indeed! I recall viewing with some interest about the level of bookkeeping needed by a former bootlegger that got licensed. There’s actually more record keeping on ethanol than there is for NFA firearms manufacture and sales (fully automatic machine guns, destructive weapons, disguised firearms, short barreled rifles and shotguns or suppressors) – which are tracked heavily.
    In the US, it’s due to a bit of history. Much of the taxation collected by the federal government was once largely from taxed alcohol, with no income tax collected. Income tax was introduced in preparation for prohibition.
    Obviously, the amount of funding brought in from taxed alcohol was and remains significant.
    Significant enough for President George Washington to ride up with the militia troops that responded to the Whiskey Rebellion – wisely using militia units from more distant states, lest he be calling up the very rebels he was trying to suppress.*

    *I left a *lot* out of that last tidbit, as the historic interests, complicated political issues and a few other topics, some of which were quite humorous.
    To include the abysmal failures of various militias that were called into federal service during many of our conflicts. That’s something I bring up frequently with “militia” types – often.
    History supports my assertions, something rapidly learned in political conversations I’ve had many times, in particular, with Libertarians.

  46. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    drksky @ 47,

    Yes, that’s precisely my point. It’s fine to produce ethanol in your basement, but distilling it is much more restricted.

    In the US.

  47. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    As for potatoes, tortilla de patata may be the most complete meal known to humanity (as long as it’s made properly, i.e., with onions).

    But my favorite potato dish is patatas panaderas (using Penelope Casas’ recipe):

    Peel (yes, normally I don’t like peeling potatoes, but this is a Spanish recipe) enough potatoes to make two layers in the pan you’re using. Slice them about a quarter inch thick. Pour some olive oil on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Add a second layer of potatoes, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Crush a couple of cloves of garlic with the side of a knife and tuck them between the potatoes (don’t bother removing the papery skin). Tuck in a couple of bay leaves. Cook at 425 (F, not C) for about an hour, flipping them over halfway through. Eat (ideally with bread to make sure all that delicious salted oil doesn’t go to waste).

  48. says

    @wzrd1 & Maroon

    Sure, stills are sold on Amazon, but there are disclaimers that they are only for scientific use and you are limited to something like 1 gallon per year, legally speaking. And I’m betting that purchase of those stills raises a government flag somewhere.

    I’m a homebrewer, so I produce quite a bit of my own ethanol, but if I wanted to open a business and legally sell it, talk about paperwork and roadblocks. Not as bad for a craft distillery, but even for the smallest of microbrewers, it’s just plain ridiculous. Not the least being the fact that the BATF licensing takes up to 9 months during which time you must have a lease or deed on a property. So essentially, one year of expenses with no compensation.

    I don’t want to start a micro in my basement, but it would be nice to be able to share my beer without having to give it away.

  49. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    @me, 50:


    Add a second layer of potatoes, salt, pepper, and vinegar oil.

    Though now I’m wondering how this would be with vinegar.

  50. jacquez says

    I’m roasting fingerlings right now. Earlier this year I wrote quite a long paper on regional potato demand, and in the process learned quite a bit about industrial potato storage. All it did was make me want to eat more potatoes…….

  51. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    If you’re going to put a math problem in a captcha you need to use a font where a plus is easily distinguishable from a division sign.