Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"If you put your peas in your mashed potatoes, they don't taste so bad" ~ Jonah, age 10*

I received the following comment on my post regarding potatoes the other day and thought that it posed an interesting question and the opportunity for a good follow-up entry.
Bulldog68 said ...
"I, too, am a big fan of mashed (white) potatoes, but here's a question for ya ... have you ever noticed that mashed potatoes made for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas Dinners seem to taste that much yummier? Who in your family made the best? My late Grandfather and my Dad are tied for first place in ours! *just a pre-holiday musing!*"
I've got to agree with him - mashed potatoes do seem to taste best at holiday dinners but I don't think that has anything to do with the potatoes themselves but more with the occasion. I believe our minds trick us into thinking that things taste better because it's a special occasion shared with family and friends - we have all the foods we love along with all the people we love at the same time and how can that NOT make things taste better??

Mashed potatoes hold a special place in my heart as they were always part of Sunday dinners at my "sainted" Grandfather's house along with the best roast beef I can remember. Gramp didn't mash his own potatoes, though, that job was usually left to one of my aunts or sometimes myself or one of my cousins.

I can still remember my Aunt Mary teaching me how to make proper mashed potatoes after I had totally goofed them up one day and served up a lumpy mess! Aunt Mary worked in the cafeteria at the Dr. Helen Baldwin School in Canterbury at the time so she was quite the expert in all things food. I believe I was in seventh grade at the time but I distinctly remember her telling me to be sure to use a masher first and to make sure that I mashed the butter in with the potatoes so that it melted thoroughly before using the electric mixer to whip them up with milk, salt, and pepper. These days I add a dollop of sour cream when I've got it (a trick I learned from my first husband) and that makes them even creamier.

Maybe part of the reason that mashed potatoes are such a comfort food for me is that they evoke childhood memories of happy times spent at my grandfather's house when the whole family would get together for Sunday dinner. They also remind me of holidays past when again I was surrounded by family. These days those family get-togethers seem to be mostly a thing from the past as everyone just seems to be too busy these days. We're even so busy that you can now buy mashed potatoes in containers at grocery stores and even though they aren't half bad, they don't hold a candle to the ones my Aunt Eleanor can make. She gets my vote for First Place for Best Mashed Potatoes as no matter the occasion she makes fantastic mashed potaotes! That's not to say that there's anything wrong with anyone else's but hers were always the best!

How about you? Do YOUR mashed potatoes taste better on holidays and who in your family makes the best? Inquiring minds wanna know!

*quoted from


  1. Anonymous4:37 PM EDT

    I personally HATE mashed potatoes. My mother's boyfriend at the time was madly in love with mashed potatoes apparently. At least that's the only expalnation for serving them every single day of the week. It didn't matter what we had for dinner you could bet money good old mashed potatoes would be on the freakin table along with it. Every time I look at them I want to throw them. Kind of a hard thing to do since my boyfriend is a mashed potatoe fan.

  2. Anonymous1:59 AM EDT

    If we are to get decent white mashed potatoes in mi casa, my husband has to make therm. I do killer smashed, seasoned red potatos, but those are easy.

    I'm lazy. If I have to peel the darned things, boil them, yada, yada, yada, I go nuts--or I go to the cupboard and pull out Ye Olde Potato Buds. Yum! Nothing like Potato Buds to take me back to Mom's home cooking. I remember so well the Thanksgiving when my Mom screwed up and put too much milk in with the Potato Buds. That was like 1968 or so, and NO stores were open on Thanksgiving back then. I bonded so wonderfully with my Dad as we traveled hither and yon looking for dehydrated potato flakes that day. We finally found a 7-11 (one of the first on the West Coast, mind you) in Sacramento--fifty miles from home--that was not only open, but actually had a box 'o Buds.

    And yes, mashed potatoes are always best at holidays. Thank God I am only tasked with turkey, ham, rib roast, tomato soup cake and pecan pie for holiday feasts--all of which I do with quite the flair. The spuds are the province of my dear cousin Deanna. She is the Queen of Potatoes--makes these perfectly smooth, rich, buttered clouds AND amazing potato salad--not to mention perfect fried chicken. I can't fry chicken to save my life. Guess I'm lucky to be well married and have at least one perfect cousin!


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