Potato po-tah-to

Here’s an outtake from my summer travels: potato mashers from the world’s purported largest potato masher collection.

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My kitchen doesn’t even contain a potato masher, but someone out there was enthusiastic enough about the utensil to cultivate this extensive assemblage, on display at the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho (incidentally, America’s potato capital). I like to think about the hands that gripped and wore down these handles, about the Sunday dinners and family gatherings and countless holidays that necessitated their use.

Did the home cooks who once employed these mashers leave the skins intact or peel the potatoes down to pure whiteness? Did they use butter or broth? Exclusively milk or a generous splash of heavy cream? Did they prefer the texture of a few toothsome potato chunks or an ultra-creamy mash?

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One thing I’d bet on: the generation of cooks that owned these mashers probably never threw in a hot dash of wasabi.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    them apples said,

    I was once given a potato masher as a Christmas gift.

    A second hand one.

    My cousin had gone out shopping and decided to bu me a potato masher, so he di. When he got home, he realised that the one he’d bought matched the rest of the stuff in his kitchen perfectly, so he gave me his other one instead.

    It’s perfectly fine, and it’s been put to good use in our kitchen for years now, but I often smile when I get stuck into a bowl of spuds and remember that one of my best pieces of kitchen kit was second hand and it’s presence in my house helped to contribute to my cousin’s aesthetically pleasing kitchen.

  2. 2

    Trisha said,

    them apples: Great story! I’m glad the hand-me-down has turned into one of your best pieces.

  3. 3

    I have a potato masher now, but when I used to have lesser-equipped kitchens, my way around it was cooking peeled potatoes, cut into very small cubes, until they were beyond tender. Then I used a whisk to whip in butter and cream.

    I like the masher because I can leave the skins on if I want. 🙂

  4. 4

    Trisha said,

    Camille: I’m going to have to try the ‘very small cubes’ method — makes sense instead of the lazy chunks we usually boil in preparation for mashing around here. But I’m with you — I do like the texture of skins-on more often than not.


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