Hey, bosom spuddy, our history was written in the starch
A love letter to the most versatile vegetable in the world, and perhaps the greatest food that has ever lived
It started when I was a baby. Mouth open with the sounds of faux aeroplanes filling the air, my hungry teeth chomping at the bit to accept your mashed deliciousness. At that time gentility was the key. Your fluffiness caressed my half-naked gums, warm and filled with peas. Despite my best efforts some had to be spat out. In my mind it was a sign of respect, but in truth my little maw could only accommodate so much of your crushed remains mixed with peas, so out you came. Dribbling down my chin and stuck to dad’s cheek. He thought I didn’t like you but the truth is that I was already in love, I just didn’t know it yet.
It’s now Sibusiso’s sixth birthday. At least I think his name was Sibusiso; it’s so long ago now that the details are a little fuzzy. What I do remember is that history was being made. The fabled golden arches had just rolled into town and it was the first of its kind in the entire country. Our excitement was electric. We had heard the stories about Ronald and his restaurants overseas packed with ball pits, jungle gyms and all the fun a six-year-old could ever hope for. Most importantly they had the kind of kids’ meals that brought joy. Packed neatly next to a burger and a toy, there you were again. Slim, salted and crispy, you were the perfect accompaniment to a day spent gallivanting through plastic tubes. In that form you were easy and delicious but also contentious. Everyone thought they could create a better version of you. I bumped into a colonel who made you fatter and spiced you differently. These other guys who enjoyed flame-grilling food put their own popular spin on it. Loudly proclaiming whose you liked best could land you in an argument. All those arguments missed the point; your nutritionally questionable goodness brought all the boys to the yard.
You did get me into trouble a few times though. At some point some Harry Potter knock-off had figured out a way to turn you into vodka, the elixir of bad decisions and good gracious some of those choices were dodgy. Weirdly though, that’s when you would show your versatility. Joking loudly with a bunch of friends, sipping budget vodka drenched in Coke, someone would suggest ordering something cheap and delicious. Like an over-eager kid in class, the idea of your sliced golden goodness swimming in sauce would beg for everyone’s attention until someone knocked on the door with a carton full of slap chips...