Potatoes and Broken Hearts

Photograph by Carly Lewis

Breakups and food: the two seem to be made for each other. Some of us reach for the sweet with the ice cream and the cake, while others gravitate towards the salty; a nice combination of plain potato chips dipped in a bunch of Hellava’ Good. Trust me: if it weren’t so great, they wouldn’t call it Hellava’.

But wait, I did mention the word breakup and you may be thinking, isn’t this an issue all about food? I’d be quick to point that out, but with breakups for myself, the breakup is never fully complete until mashed potatoes happen.

Those creamy, white, moist, melt in your mouth morsels of potato combined with the saltiness of pure butter and the splash of milk and the hint of chives. I guess you can say I never feel it’s truly over until I’ve mashed the life out of a potato. Sounds a lot like my last few relationships.

But alas I digress; the potato itself is a vegetable of the earth, in French, the pomme de terre, or apple of the earth. For me, a real comfort is when life decides to throw me a curve ball, a real kick to the shins. Potatoes themselves have never been my favorite vegetable – you load them up with gravy and cheese and deep fry those suckers and of course I’m going to say yes. It’s either the true beauty of the poutine or the fact I know they are so bad for me.

I’m not sure why I only like the potato in a very few select ways, but now we’re getting off-topic and I need to stay on it. Someone tells me that it’s over, that the relationship has run it’s course, or my new favorite line, “my heart beats for another”, and what do I do, I don’t cry, I don’t yell, I don’t make a scene. I have once or twice, but I was much younger then.

So after the person has broken my heart and I’ve left the mutually agreed upon place in which we have decided to meet to discuss the breakup, I head to the kitchen. I head to my sanctuary, and the first thing I do is fill a pot with water. I take four large potatoes and I peel them, usually Yukon Gold. After peeling and cutting and dropping them into the boiling salted water I wait for the magic to happen. After about 20 minutes and the fork test comes back positive, the real excitement begins. First we strain and then back into the hot pot, a ton of butter caresses and kisses the potatoes followed by white pepper and a dash of salt. The flavors themselves begin to meld together, as I mash the potatoes into the creamy texture that will eventually fill my bowl. Once the potatoes have been mashed I add a touch of milk; I don’t like my potatoes too creamy, but I do love a good consistency. The last part is my favorite: the sprinkle of chive, it then gets folded into the mix and then I have a steaming bowl of perfect mashed potatoes.

Potatoes themselves are not my friend, but when my heart is broken and I need to feel the comfort, a night in the kitchen making mashed potatoes does it for me, you can keep the Ben and Jerry’s, I’ll take the Yukon Gold.