Opinion: This spud’s for you


If you had to choose one food to live on for the rest of your life, what would it be? I provide this question as a public service for those in long-term relationships who are pretty much stuck at home and desperately need something to debate.

I asked my wife for her response, and she said I had to give my choice first. That sounded like a trap, but I replied, “OK, Mary Ellen, if I had to pick one thing, I’d say your delicious chicken piccata.”

“So, what you are saying is you don’t like my chicken marsala?”

See what I mean?

A decade ago, this question was easy for Chris Voight, an unrepentant spud lover who at the time was the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission. Chris decided to put his money where his mouth is … as opposed to his hero, Mr. Potato Head, whose mouth Chris could put where his nose is.

Chris was unhappy with the local school district’s decision to cut fattening foods from the lunch menu, so he pledged to eat nothing but taters for 60 days. No sour cream, no bacon bits — not even on the side. Just potatoes. He ate approximately 1,200 of them in two months. Chris needed some kind of libation, so he opted for a beer made from potatoes. Yes, Chris, this spud’s for you.

Doctors supervised his two-month regimen. Their biggest concern was the lack of essential fatty acids in the diet. Chris agreed to downing several servings of French fries every day, and he got a kick out of being asked at the drive-thru, “Do you want a burgers with that?”

“There are lots of myths about potatoes,” Chris said. For example, the conventional thinking is that potatoes are very fattening and full of empty calories. On this last point, there is some spirited disagreement, one of many wedge issues Chris had to deal with. Chris claims he lost 20 pounds on the potato diet, but I suspect that’s because he finally put down the sack of potatoes the last time he weighed himself.

Chris still dines on the simple baked potato, the twice-baked potato, and the yummy thrice-baked potato. Also, cottage fries, mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, gnocchi and tater tots. Has Chris gone a bit over the edge in enthusiasm for potatoes?  “I just don’t want people to take the potato for gratin.” Yeah, that’s the way he talks now.

Chris is considering eating raw potatoes, which apparently have some additional health benefits but lack the classic taste we all enjoy. His wife suggested splitting the difference and cooking them just a little. Said Chris: “It’s just another one of her half-baked ideas.”

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