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