Daily Archives: November 2, 2009

I have issues: Part 1 — Potato Skins

Throughout my day I’m bombarded with memories that make me feel inadequate. That how I do something is wrong in some way. One of these memories is of a conversation I had with my mother-in-law. It was completely in passing and I’m sure she never remembered it after the conversation, but I did remember it. I’m hoping that getting it out in the open will take it away forever.

My husband and I like mashed potatoes with the skin intact. It probably started with my belief that the most nutritious part of the potato was in the skin — or perhaps it was just laziness, but our preference stuck for many years. Once, either just talking to my mother-in-law or cooking with her, I mentioned that we never skinned our potatoes before boiling & mashing/whipping them. She seemed surprised, then made a scrubbing motion with her hands and said, “So, first you scrub them very well…”

I suspect she then went on to describe the process she imagined we went through to make these mashed potatoes with skin, but I was stuck at, “So, first you scrub them very well…”

Well, I thought, I rinsed them, yeah, but scrub? Not always. I made sure they didn’t have eyes, rinsed them, cut them into smaller pieces, boiled them with a clove or two of garlic & then whipped them with butter & milk. But I didn’t really scrub them. Why? Were there really bad things on them if I didn’t really scrub them?

So now, whenever I make potatoes of any kind that still includes the skin — mashed, baked, boiled — I think of that conversation and my stomach tightens. And I really don’t know why it does. I doubt my mother-in-law thought I served my family unclean food. I think she was just trying to imagine what she would do if she served mashed potatoes with skins.

Whatever the case, we have a lot of rice and pasta these days. No scrubbing there.