Okay, first of all, anyone on a low-carb diet proceed with caution, this ain’t gonna be no cake walk. Also, never slice an apple with the same knife you used to slice lemons and garlic. Don’t ask questions, just trust me on this.
Anyway, on to the post. Once upon a time I was a lot smaller. I also was the picky eater from hell. My mom is still not fully recovered. Every family gathering the conversation somehow turns to me (Curse Of The Only Child) and mom launches in a long-winded report about my past self’s eating habits.
Yes, I didn’t like vegetables. There’s actually a proper evolutionary reason why many small children don’t like vegetables, especially not the leafy green ones. Once upon another time, when humans were roaming the planet without a fixed address and so did the bears, human children were basically free range, running around, head filled with nonsense, and you know how small children are, sticking absolutely everything into their mouths? Yeah, children’s aversion to bitter tastes, like vegetables and other plants, is because of that, so the little fuckers don’t accidentally inhale the poison ivy and the belladonna. This is Mother Nature’s way of making sure your kids ain’t poisoning themselves while you’re trying to fend off the cave bear, or really large stag, or disgruntled salmon.
So I didn’t like vegetables as a kid because evolution. I also didn’t like things with weird textures, like mushy stuff, probably also because evolution, and definitely because my gag reflex is the stuff of legends. I also didn’t like anything that smelled weird, or sounded weird, or plain looked weird. Basically, my food options were very limited and mom, mighty wielder of pan and wooden spoon, was about ready to throw me out the window at meal times. I mean, sometimes you just have to be older to like stuff, you know? Like I didn’t like Star Wars until my early twenties even though I’ve seen it as a kid, and it took me a long time to appreciate Star Trek. Hell, I didn’t get the point of Golden Girls until last December! And it’s the same with food. Did I eat strawberries as a kid? Nope, too sour. Did I like that weird melty French cheese? Nope, that’s weird. Did I eat my mom’s amazeballs Bolognese sauce? Hell to the no. Did all of that change? Yes ma’am, it sure did.
Aaaanyway, so traditional Austrian cuisine is a) ransacked, borrowed and stolen from neighbouring countries and b) extremely fatty. Mom was on a never-ending quest to lose weight, so we rarely had any of the fried stuff. Mom liked Italian and Greek food, so we had lots of that, while mom was stretching every food item with finely chopped zucchini or carrots, desperately trying to get some vitamins into my uncooperative body. There was only one thing she couldn’t ever go wrong with, and that was potatoes.
Can we take a moment to appreciate the humble potato? You can cook them, fry them, bake them, gratinate them, vodka-nate them. Get it together, every other vegetable!
Potatoes were a staple food in our family because it was the one thing everyone ate, and you’d think it’d be pretty easy to find something everyone likes in a household of three, Chrissakes. The way I liked them best was as Bratkartoffeln, for which I just found out that no English word exists. Mom always made them after mom’s godmother’s hundred year old recipe.
Story time! Way back in the day when people still had governesses, my mom’s godmother was a governess in Morocco to some French bigshot. Imagine it like Casablanca, only without the spy stuff. Anyway, the Godmother used to make the kids this kind of meal, real simple, just cook some potatoes, peel them, slice them about half a centimetre thick and fry them in a tablespoonful of olive oil until they’re nice and brown, then let them chill on paper towels to drain any excess oil. Glass of milk to go with it and BOOM, lunch! I don’t even know what’s so great about it, I mean it’s literally just potatoes, but it’s so good! This was also one of the first things I learned to cook when I was a little kid, seven I think, I remember how mom used to say you know they’re ready for eating when you hear them sing. It’s just the water evaporating that makes a tiny high-pitched noise, but yeah, it sounds maybe a bit like singing.
Or screams of agony, depending on your level of childhood morbidity.
It’s also no wonder that recipe survived fro a hundred years, any idiot could remember that. Exhibit A continues typing.
Still, we couldn’t have Bratkartoffeln every day, at least not without mom pulling her hair out, so every time we did have it, it was the Best Day Ever. Not surprisingly, when I moved out the first thing that happened was three weeks of potato anything. And today I just bought another three pounds. God damn. If you see me on a low carb diet you know the potato famine is back. Ain’t no other explanation.