|Okay . . . well . . . it's tougher than it looks.|
My Mom could peel potatoes.
I mean, really peel potatoes.
She did it so fast, that, for years, I thought each potato had two peels.
Because there was always peel where I thought she had already . . .
Okay, so brilliant, I wasn't.
When I was ten, she decided the time had come for me to take my place in the 'potato peeling' scheme of things.
I have to point out that I had been totally fine in the whole 'watching' scenario. And really fine with the 'eating'.
But moms are never satisfied with the status quo.
And to top things off, she wasn't even there. She had put a roast in the oven, vegetables on the stove, ready to turn on.
I did know how to do that . . .
And a pan of potatoes to wash, peel and cook.
She even gave me a schedule.
At four o'clock, I reluctantly set down my book and headed into the kitchen.
I stared at the mound of potatoes and sighed. Surely there was a better way.
But this was the sixties. Instant anything was in its infancy.
And TV dinners were something other families ate.
I picked up a knife and started.
In my mind, I could picture Mom's sure, steady stroke, denuding each potato in seconds.
And in one long peel.
Reality was a bit . . . trickier. Little chunks of potato began to rain down into the bowl.
My potato skins seemed to be a lot thicker than Mom's.
Must be a different kind of potato.
Slowly . . . very slowly . . . the white potato began to emerge. Somewhat smaller than the original.
Okay, a lot smaller.
But finally it was finished.
I glanced at the clock. Suddenly, Mom's strict starting time instructions began to make sense.
This wasn't her first rodeo. Three older siblings has stood right where I was standing. Risking life and fingers in an effort to provide the family with dinner.
I picked up the second potato.
Half-an-hour later, I looked down, proudly, at my pristine bowl of newly-peeled potatoes.
What had once filled the bowl now . . . didn't.
I shrugged and put a pot on the stove. Filled it to the instructed depth with water. Added my potatoes.
And turned on the burner.
A few minutes later, Mom came home.
I proudly pointed to the now bubbling pots of potatoes and vegetables and waited for her praise.
She didn't disappoint. “Good job, Diane,” she said, smiling.
Happily, I went to set the table. A job I was comfortable with.
That was over forty years ago.
I did learn to peel potatoes. In a lot less time. And with a lot thinner peels.
I have never been able to match my Mom's lightning fast, and amazingly efficient knife, but I can make a fairly credible showing.
Or so I thought.
At a recent family dinner, two of my granddaughters, ages six and nine, peeled all of the potatoes for the meal.
And when you are feeding some twenty people, that is a mound.
They were quicker than I am.
I was suddenly reminded of my mom.
Sometimes excellence skips a generation. Or two.