Saturday, May 9, 2009

Spuds







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After a three-year hiatus, I'm going to plant some potatoes. Yukon Gold is the choice, ordered (as "sets") a bit late from a Midwest nursery-company. For some reason, I like having spuds in the ground out there. Looks like we'll have lettuce, carrots, and (green) onions, too, as well as tomatoes, although the latter ripen rather late in our global niche.

I grew up hearing potatoes sometimes referred to as "spuds." According to the OED online, this slang-term for potato emerged rather late, preceded by "spud" (as noun) as referring to a variety of tools, mostly small ones used for digging but also kinds of knives. Here is an example of the potato-reference:

1860 Slang Dict. 225 In Scotland, a spud is a raw potato; and roasted spuds are those cooked in the cinders with their jackets on.


In spite of the syntax, the spuds are the ones with their jackets on, not the cinders. One whom I know well has always found the reference to "potatoes with their jackets on" most humorous; it's a reference that appears in many cook-books, and it is charming to think of spuds going to a tailor to get fitted for potato-blazers.

Spuds
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Potatoes grow out of potatoes like an
underground dynasty while the rest
of agriculture bustles above-ground
with blossoms, pods, and fruits.
Potatoes multiply themselves in sequestered
arithmetic. They send up gestures
of leaves to appease sunlight. Meanwhile,
they populate their tomb, glow inwardly,
will stand for harvest or sit tight--possess
a kind of divine patience, an honest secrecy.
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Spuds aren't glamorous, decorative,
geometric, or vibrant. They're lumpy,
plain, idiosyncratic, and common. They
get along with rocks, advise moles, ignore
frost, and huddle in carbohydrate caucuses.
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Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom




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