obsession

For Valentine’s Day, which was very lovely and Valentiney, I made a small feast. I made steak with a rub and a nice salad and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. The steak was excellent, the salad was okay, and the garlic mashed potatoes were the stuff of creamery, buttery, garlicky perfection in a gigantic pot of potatoes and I wanted to put my face in them and fall asleep and maybe asphyxiate in potatoey, garlicky happiness. It’s a fitting end for me.

I started them first, because the garlic had to roast for awhile, and then peeling the potatoes took an age and a half and also a knuckle. I focused on my potatoes as they came together, almost like magic. Garlic-smelling magic. The boiling, the concentrated mashing, the adding the entire stick of butter and the cream, the careful seasoning, the whipping in the soft, roasted cloves, the careful adjustment of seasoning, the struggle with myself to not put my face in the pot–at every stage it came together so beautifully, I nearly cried.

And at every stage of the garlic mashed potato caper, I had to try them. At first just a nibble, but as they got more delicious and buttery, a spoon, another, a third. Spoons lining up next to the stove because tasting my garlic mashed potatoes was a very serious business I take very seriously. Especially when you are serious like me.

When they were finished and staying warm on the stove, as I started to put together the salad and cook up the steaks, I kept sneaking back to the pot of potatoes for another bite, and another, and another. I finished cooking, plated the food–a big slab of meat and two, a tong of salad and then another, a mound of potatoes, a spoonful for me, a mound of potatoes, a spoonful for me and then another spoonful.

I sat down across from E with our plates.

“You have something on your chin,” he said.

“I was saving that for later,” I said.

There was an entire pot of mashed potatoes for later, and I was so grateful. As I generously splotted the stuff on our plates, I kept a careful eye on the level of potato left behind, and was thankful to see that it was still pretty robust and magnificent. I had a whole plate of steak and salad and mashed potatoes waiting for me, but I was already planning how I would have potatoes with corn for breakfast, and potatoes for lunch and then potatoes tomorrow night. I was not enjoying my present potatoes, because I was already hoarding my future potatoes. “Hoarding My Future Potatoes” is also the name of my forthcoming personal investing memoir/how-to.

It’s also a little bit nuts–I mean, I know garlic mashed potatoes are delicious. They are proof that if God existed, he would love us. But the mashed potatoes had taken over my mind. Mashed potatoes, mashed potatoes, mashed potatoes. I could not finish my dinner (I barely started it) because I was so full of mashed potatoes. As we snuggled on the couch watching Mad Men, I was thinking about how I’d have mashed potatoes later when I got hungry. As we drifted off to sleep, when I woke up, as I moved through the day, in the back of my head was the countdown to mashed potatoes, and everything was an obstacle to them–no I can’t go fax something for you because that means I am no where near the mashed potatoes if I need them Yes of course, sweetheart, no problem.

I should make a little sling for my container of mashed potatoes. A mashed potato hat. A potato IV. I should inject mashed potatoes subcutaneously. I should become a mashed potato when I grow up. I should consider that I have some kind of problem–a humorous mashed potato problem, which isn’t as hilarious when I consider all the food that has haunted me, made me tap my foot impatiently when I was delayed in getting back to it, made me sigh gratefully when I was reunited with it, made me worry about what would happen when it was gone.

You try being logical–you can make more, you can buy more, this is not the last food that will ever appear in front of you–your mashed potatoes, the box of cookies, the donuts that appear in the break room and they’re not even very good donuts. But that low-level anxiety remains, and you’re torn between the need to devour immediately and hoard forever and either way, you end up with a stomach ache. Or maybe that’s just me.

photo by ohskylab

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  8 comments for “obsession

  1. Sal
    February 16, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Not just you. I’ve done this more times than I can count, right down to the endless sampling that fills me up and inability to enjoy the meal once it’s cooked. It’s positively oppressive.

  2. Kim
    February 16, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Omigod.
    This hit very close to home. Especially the part about not enjoying the current food because of hoarding the future food.
    My mind = blown.

  3. sarah
    February 16, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    and this is why i love reading your site. how many times have i done this? not with mashed potatoes, but with special sausage-cornbread-apple stuffing, with cheesecake, with mini-salami-puff pastry sandwiches…

    i feel you, girl

  4. February 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Take everything you just described, but make it me instead of you, then factor in children. And imagine the horror of going back to the fridge for your hoarded, I mean saved for later, deliciousness and finding that some heinous beast child had eaten it.

    Then imagine a loving spouse trying to talk you down from your murder/suicide level range with something as inane as “It’s just mashed potatoes. We can make more.”

    The urge to kill can be unbearable, and when you fight the urge you turn into a big black hole of loathing. And the only thing that fills the void is candy.

    All over potatoes. Yes-huh.

  5. Holly G
    February 17, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Get out of my mind! I do this with really tasty leftovers. I plan, I covet, I sneak in to the fridge and devour the leftover burrito. God help my husband if he gets in my way!

  6. February 19, 2009 at 7:54 am

    What you do with mashed potatoes and I do with chocolate cake, my grandmother does with quality time. You spend several hours driving to see her in her little retirement village and she spends the whole time coming up with ways to guilt you into staying longer, or working on you to commit to another day to visit again. I visit her with pretty good regularity but she doesn’t seem to be able to enjoy our time together because she’s so focused on making sure these 4 hours aren’t the last spoonful of mashed potatoes she’ll ever have.

  7. February 19, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Brilliant post. “Hoarding my future potatoes.” Really describes the nuttiness of this, doesn’t it?

  8. Melissa
    July 19, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    This is a great blog! The obessions are so crazy and such a time waster. Why do we do this nutty stuff? Why is this food so powerful?

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