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Potatoes were made to go with meat

Around the table

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POSTED: February 12, 2014 4:30 p.m.
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No matter what kind, nor how they are cooked, potatoes make a great side dish for meat.

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Those of us who like meat need only look to Genesis 9:3 to support our affinity for the four most important food groups — beef, pork, chicken and seafood.
I don’t push God’s allowance to its limits, though, as it includes “every moving thing that liveth.” There are plenty of “meats” I don’t eat.
I strongly believe, though, that “green herbs” can be interpreted to include taters. No, the taters aren’t green when I eat them, but they start out green. I think taters were created specifically to go with meat.
When I eat a steak, I absolutely have to have a baked tater, usually the large russet variety. I slice that rascal open and fill it with a glob each of butter and sour cream. Sometimes, I’ll also add fresh bacon bits, shredded cheddar cheese and chives. This loaded tater is the perfect dancing partner for a hot, juicy steak.
If I’m feeling hungry, I’ll add that other green side dish, but a salad doesn’t have the same priority as the tater.
For those looking to control their figure, eating taters on a regular basis probably is not for you. Taters are a source of food starch as well as carbohydrates. It’s like rice on steroids. I grew up eating lots of rice, if only because it was cheaper than taters and easy to store for long periods.
Oh yeah, we had taters for special meals. Mama wouldn’t think of fixing fried chicken without mashed “Arsh” taters. She never pronounced Irish (white) potatoes with emphasis on the “I.”
Except for sweet taters or new potatoes cooked with fresh-picked string beans, the starch I got with most of my meals was white or wild rice with gravy. There always was gravy, or the rice was cooked in beef, pork or chicken broth.
Of course, I ate fries — lots of ’em. A large side of these greasy tater fingers was like a salty slice of heaven. They were required with a Hardee’s Husky Jr. or North Carolina chopped-barbecue sandwich.
These culinary pleasures were mostly weekly excursions during high-school track season. I didn’t indulge as often as I wanted to.
I didn’t know that my limited exposure to taters (and walking everywhere I went) was keeping off the pounds. I never weighed more than 125 pounds until I went in the Army, where taters were served three meals a day. The walking I did as an infantry paratrooper actually was less than I did as a teenager, but I did a million times more pushups and sit-ups and carried a 75-pound green wart on my back called a rucksack.
It didn’t take me two nanoseconds to learn to love the Army’s hash browns. Mama would sometimes use leftover mashed taters to make a potato pancake for breakfast. With chopped onions and lots of salt and pepper added, tater pancakes were a lot like hash browns, but there rarely were more than a few tater pancakes divided between four kids and Mama. Daddy didn’t eat breakfast. I figured it was a Marine Corps thing.
In the Army though, I was getting as many huge scoops of hash browns as I wanted to go with my eggs-to-order. Hash browns were ostensibly offered as a substitute for grits, which the Army hadn’t discovered yet.
I was eating real taters for breakfast, lunch and supper. I know they were real because in the old Army, everyone below the rank of sergeant pulled KP (kitchen police) duty in the mess hall (now called dining facility).
When I wasn’t washing pots and pans or dumping garbage, I was bent over a large pot, into which I was peeling taters. (An old Three Stooges episode defined KP to mean “keep peeling.”)
By the time I’d been in the Army a year, I was up to 140 pounds. It probably helped that I ran, walked or marched everywhere I went and did all those pushups and sit-ups. Years later, when I was medically retired, I weighed just more than 150 pounds.
But that was a lot of taters ago.

 

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