AS A kid, I could not resist anything with potatoes.
I could ignore the fact that my Aunt Tita Blitte hid cabbage, chayote and mushrooms among chunks of potatoes in her chicken stew, a dish I liked.
It so happens that Aug. 19 is National Potato Day in the US. Since the Philippines has a thriving potato farming industry in Davao, I decided to talk about the spud today. But before that, last March 17, the PNA published news about the Department of Agriculture and Universal Robina Corp. signing a P5 million program to boost the spud industry in the country. It will benefit Balutakay village in Davao.
As for liking potatoes to a fault, no different is my nephew Pannon. He likes potatoes so much, he created his infamous “Pannon’s Smashed Potatoes.” Since he is just a kid trying his hand at cooking, we can forgive him for listing, among the ingredients, the following: a quarter ton of potatoes, 20 kilos bell peppers and 30 bars of butter. (As an aside, a quarter ton is a staggering 226.79 kilos.)
My cousin Dona tried this recipe, tweaking it course, and it came out delicious. “Correction, edible,” my Uncle Gustave dryly said.
My aunt, being practical, reduced the recipe to a credible level. “Make that one large potato for every person. Everything else will have to be according to taste.”
Pannon’s instructions were equally unusual: “Smash boiled potatoes with a hammer.” But since the task would take too long, we bet on smashing the potatoes with a road roller. It is a good thing Peetong, Dona’s husband, prevailed upon us.
“Don’t! It’ll have the flavor of roadkill. A rice harvester might do the job better,” he said. Since the conversation was getting bizarre, my other niece Krystalle diverted our attention with with her fun-facts.
“Did you know potatoes are old crops? Southern Peruvians and northwestern Bolivians cultivated the spud around 5,000 BC or maybe it was 8,000 BC,” Krystalle said.
“While you’re busy telling us how old potatoes are, how do you propose we celebrate the day?” Uncle Gustave asked her.
“Make potato fritata or potato soup,” she replied.
“How about potato-flavored waffles?” our neighbor Illustracio said. He just dropped by to have coffee with us.
Pannon quickly said, ”Let’s have a smashed potato party. I’ll make it.”
We all shouted, “No, Pannon, please! Let’s eat out instead.”
Ellen, my other niece, tapped the boy on the head. “I have a better plan: Let’s have French fries in all flavors we can think of.”
Since it was a smashing good idea, we all got busy peeling potatoes for homemade fries.