Ode to a Potato Masher

potato-masherOh, how I love thee… let me count the ways…

Ok, not really. But, almost.

A few months ago my son began requesting mashed potatoes with dinner. Real mashed potatoes, not the instant paste that’s all too easy to “cook”. I thought “great, he’s finally starting to pique (or maybe peak) the beginnings of an adolescent appetite” (he’s 10 now). Fine.

So I set about cooking up potatoes with many dinners. Usually Yukon Gold. Yum, they really do have a hint of a buttery flavor – they make excellent mashed potatoes. The problem was, however, that I was trying to do the mashing with everything but the proper tools. Forks, spoons, even a pastry blender. Not really ideal. Because, believe it or not, I didn’t own a potato masher.

With the frequent requests for “smashed” potatoes I finally gave in and started a search for the proper tool to do the job. Being a bit of a tightwad my preference was to find something at one of the thrift stores in town. The first couple didn’t have what I needed, but the 3rd one did. The older model I found was brought home to do the job of smashing up those fine boiled potatoes we were frequenting.

You may think it odd that I’d profess a love for something as simple as a potato masher, but those of you who have an affinity for any fine tool can probably identify with what I’m saying. Even when I first picked up this tool from the bin of odd kitchen utensils I could tell it had been well used and probably well loved. The handle (probably the old-fashioned Bake-Lite, the stuff you find on old appliances and pots) was smooth and just dropped into my hand with a rhythm of a tool that knew it’s purpose in life. It was hard to explain.

After using it several times in the kitchen I’ve come to really love hefting this simple tool in my hand, pressing away at the boiled potatoes in the pot. I can almost feel the previous owner using this masher for many years and many family meals. You might even say there’s a nostalgia that comes over me.

When you find the right tool for the job, whether it’s a saw or knitting needles or a tractor or a potato masher, you just know when the instrument fits right into the flow of using it to create something. In this case, a sumptuous helping of buttery mashed potatoes for our dinner.

Maybe this should really be an “Ode to the Perfect Tool”.

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