8 (Sun) November 2020
Potatoes Golly, Too!
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with the Family
Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (14) (see 100 NEWBERY M&Ms)
While reading the 100 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922, I am attempting to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book. The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.
Roller Skates (1937) by Ruth Sawyer. The book is about Lucinda Wyman, a 10-year-old girl who spends several months in New York City, living with her teacher Miss Peters and exploring the city on roller skates while her parents are traveling in Italy.
To put it mildly, the book was rather difficult to get through. For a book published in 1936, about events taking place in the 1890s, perhaps the writer’s inclusion of immigrants as supporting characters may have seemed to encourage diversity, but I found that their descriptions were insulting and racist, including the small, finely molded Asiatic lady shut-in Zayda; or the small and stoutish Irish cab driver Mr Gilligan; or the straw-thin, undersized Italian fruit peddler Tony Coppino; or the not bigger than a pint-pot Polish girl Trinket Browdowski. Perhaps Lucinda’s active lifestyle and outspoken manner may have then seemed progressive and empowering for young girls – kinda like but I found her excessive enthusiasm to be insufferable; even when Zayda ends up murdered with a dagger in her back or when Trinket dies of a mysterious disease, Lucinda stays perky.
While we were at the cabin yesterday, I considered trying to cook potatoes in a can with charcoal, as per Tony’s method, but then determined that it wouldn’t work very well. First, unless the can had holes punched into the sides to allow for air to circulate, the charcoal would never get very hot. Even if the charcoal did get hot, the handful of briquettes would generate such little heat that the whole potatoes would require hours to cook through. All the while, as the charcoal burned out, the ashes would have to be removed from the can, and new briquettes would have to be lit separately and added to the can.
[paraphrased in part]
Tony had an elegant idea. “Have you ever roasted potatoes in a tin can?” he asked Lucinda as she skated around a peaceful corner on Eighth Avenue early in the morning.
Lucinda’s imagination needed no prodding. “You mean a picnic. Elegant! On the shore in Maine we have the best picnics. We scoop out the sand, fill the hole with driftwood, and when it burns down to charcoal we pile lobsters, chicken, potatoes, corn – anything almost.* Then we cover it with seaweed and stones and when it’s done – golly!”
“The potatoes – they are golly, too!”
Tony set to work. There were holes in the covers of the cans; about each a wire had been twisted tight with a couple of feet free and a loop in each end. He filled the cans quarter full of charcoal, lighted it, screwed on the tops and gave one to Lucinda. “Swing it hard, till you get it to burn.”
* Essentially, an earth oven, like an umu (see 11.293 Umu Puaa).
W recently purchased a new air fryer, primarily for roasting sweet potatoes. In contrast to the crappy one that we had in Manila (see for example 8.030 Air-Fried Wings), this one actually circulates air and oil inside the vessel while cooking. Set at 200 degrees (max setting), the machine cooked the potatoes in 60 minutes (max setting). The hardest part was washing the potatoes to remove all traces of dirt from the skins, prior to putting them into the air fryer.
Although the potatoes would’ve been fine as is, I made them into American-style baked potatoes. Fully loaded, with salt and pepper, butter, Greek yogurt (in lieu of sour cream), cheddar cheese, bacon bits, chives – explosive flavors in every bite of fluffy spud. The skins, having been brushed with olive oil and salt prior to cooking, turned out beautifully crispy and savory. Golly!
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)