A Few of my Favorite (Simple) Things #3: Peeling Potatoes

I can cook, but I’m not a master chef. One thing I have never been good at is peeling potatoes, and I am still what one could call a “hacker.” I will begin lightly under the skin of the potato and then descend deeper and deeper into the flesh of the potato. Moving to the next section of the tuber, I’ll start out lightly, and then dig deeper and deeper into the potato. When finished, the potato looks like I’ve taken a hacksaw to it in order to create and awkward piece of modern art.  It’s awful.

To make matters worse for the potato, I’m not fast. I’ll slowly drag the blade down the side of the potato and roughly rip stray pieces of skin away from the vegetable. My mother, on the other hand, peels potatoes like a machine. While I’m still on the first strip of the potato, my mother has already peeled a field’s worth and has already began to mash them. I’m no potato peeler, but learning how is one of a few of my favorite (simple) things.


2 thoughts on “A Few of my Favorite (Simple) Things #3: Peeling Potatoes

  1. A lovely Seamus Heaney poem that seems to fit your post:

    When all the others were away at Mass
    I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
    They broke the silence, let fall one by one
    Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
    Cold comforts set between us, things to share
    Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
    And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
    From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

    So while the parish priest at her bedside
    Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
    And some were responding and some crying
    I remembered her head bent towards my head,
    Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–
    Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

    • It’s often the simple things in life that we remember the most. In the case of Heaney (and many others), it’s about the peeling of potatoes.

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