The Down-Home Holiday Guide to Kitchen Gadgets
|"...not my great grandmother’s potato masher that she carted across the plains.."|
Native Idaho-an, Vicky Virgin, takes us on the long, strange trip that led her to her favorite gadget of - what else? - a potato masher - My favorite kitchen utensil is the potato masher. How can it not be? 1) I was born and raised in Idaho. 2) I have fond memories of romping through the potato fields as small toy like airplanes buzzed overhead spewing a toxic cocktail of pesticides. 3) My father was born in the middle of the winter in a spud cellar. And one more thing, 4) Our high school drill team sold baked potatoes for $1 as hand and feet warmers at football games. OK so we established that. And no, this is not my great grandmother’s potato masher that she carted across the plains. It is someone else’s great grandmother’s.
It was our maiden voyage to Idaho – a trip out west to meet the land and family that reared me. Not sure how much time to allot for the mixing of my future NY Jewish husband and my Mormon family, but anyway.. I thought it would be wise to plan a nice 4 day road trip – an escape valve if needed – a little loop through that wild western landscape. The road opened up in front of us. Just as we had successfully negotiated one hair-raising mountain pass, another one would open up in front of us and there was one behind that one and another one behind that one - ad infinitum as far as the eye could see. He was terrified. It was the scale he kept saying. This much I remember.
It had been hours since we had seen anything resembling a town but then there it was in the distance, a tiny speck, hope, reprieve, an oasis - was it a mirage? And then out of nowhere The Robber’s Roost appeared. We pulled into the gravel lot and turned off the engine. It was like something out of a movie - an old run-down place with junk spilling out of every crack and crevice. We couldn’t tell if it was someone’s house or a junk store. It turned out be both. The sole proprietor as it were came out from the back. He looked like the landscape we had just been driving through - windswept and craggly. The next thing we knew we had lost ourselves in time and place. It was a treasure trove of accumulation of loss and memory all at the same time.
My husband glommed onto an ancient milk bottle. I was enamored with this bizarre collection of dolls that his wife had accumulated over the years. One in particular - an ungodly blue pierrot doll resting on his belly, chin in hands, feet twirling in the air – I just had to have. But how could I possibly break up this collection? I was torn and remorseful and hated myself but did it nonetheless. He hung from my ceiling for years, gathered a lot of dust, lost his head and eventually got tossed. Who knows what happened to the milk bottle. But the potato masher----- ahhh.
Since that time my husband has tried, to no avail, to introduce other potato mashers into our kitchen – the Teflon coated waffle shaped piece of shit. None hold a candle to my simple wooden handled wired potato masher. And every time the wooden handle, paint long gone, slips into my hand I think of all of the potatoes that have been mashed with this tool by me and by that woman in Montana and by that woman before her and by that woman before her and by that woman before her......