Vegetable Beauty

My last post got more comments than usual. Obviously the potato stirs something in all of us. I have, therefore, attempted to unravel in verse-form, something of our recent tangled history with the spud.

Once, man yearned for the potato, through famines. My God, through wars! But recently, with carbohydrates falling out of favour and more exotic side-dishes to tempt our taste-buds, the proletarian potato has declined in popularity. But is showing signs of rising gloriously again!

Many poems have been written about the potato famine and I am not fool enough to essay the paths that wiser people than me have trodden. Instead, the scope of my poem is limited to this last troubling period where the potato has struggled to find its place at the feast, once again. I have named my poem “Vegetable Beauty” although reading it over, it could equally be called “Britney Spears” and, oddly, she seemed to pop into my mind as I was pondering potatoes. It would be easy to be cruel about that, but I know none of you will sink that low.

Vegetable Beauty

Your starchy consistency consistently pleases,
You go well with carrots, swedes, turnips and peases,
Now waxy, now floury, now mealy, now bitty,
More common than Paris but smarter than Britney.

Good boiled, baked or fried, or basted and roasted,
“The queen of the plate!” Pop culture once boasted…


Men, testing your nature with tongue and with mind,
Have sometimes been cruel, elitist, unkind.
“How starchy!” “So bland!” Though they ate and they ate
And worried o’er waistlines, and spoke of their weight.

Some say your carbs aren’t complex “They’re too simple!
Peristalsis will halt and they’ll make my thighs dimple!”
My colon will not be sufficiently cleansed,
Too many tatties will lead to us wearing Depends*.

Your popularity has taken a shakin’,
As people go wholegrain, veggie or vegan,
They’ve forgotten your fibre, your Vitamin C,
Your love-song with Ketchup, your conveniency.

But within each breast, if we’re honest and true,
Beats a heart and a stomach that loves, above all, you!
A once guillty secret, you’ve climbed out of the larder,
In favour, in flavour, now posh, wiser, harder.

Like Madonna you’ve reinvented yourself as a russet,
(Folks forget how she once rudely grabbed at her gusset),
“What artistry, texture!” We wonder again why
We’d forgotten the delight of a simple french fry.

So move over rice and pasta and legume,
Spud’s back in town; side supremacy resumed,
A recovered staple, a comfort, a friend
I’m off for a chippy- goodbye and The End

* Depends” – an incontinence shield sold to the elderly and unfortunate of North America.


Happy Independence Day, American pals!

24 thoughts on “Vegetable Beauty”

  1. I may be first and in this instance that may not be a good thing, for I find myself speechless…possibly moved to silence by the depth of meaning behind your words. A wonderful ode to spud…let’s leave it at that, shall we?

  2. I was moved as I wrote it, Joel, I confess. I wept. I did.

    Randall, as a matter of fact, I HAVE been talking to some people about taking it to a wider audience. “Spud” in its final form will be a serious zeitgeist piece that, I feel, deserves to be shared. The local grade school seemed quite keen…

  3. Good grief, another spud lover. Are you sure you aren’t Irish rather than Hebridean? Or are the Islanders a tattie loving bunch too?

  4. I maintain you have to have bulk for peristalsis. I would never denigrate spuds. I love ‘em. And love your poem extolling them. Atta girl!

  5. Kipling, eat your heart out! Or your cakes, if you’re that other Kipling.

    The power of blogging: you find yourself talking to dead Nobel prize winners and confectionery manufacturers.

  6. If this is what we get for Independence Day, I can’t wait to see wha tyou do for Xmas!

    You are brilliant, Sam. And I don’t say that often round these parts.

  7. Bloody brilliant! You are a poet but don’t know it. Or maybe you do. There may be a job for you with the Potato Marketing Board, you wouldn’t even have to fake your enthusiasm at the job interview. Potato juice is in your veins. You love the little earthy fellows, and so do I.

  8. Birchsprite, welcome. We teethe on raw potato in the Hebrides. We eat them mashed when all our teeth fall out. Potatoes are with us from cradle to grave.

    Pat, I agree. Bulk – it’s nature’s way. All these fibre powders and suppositaries they market at us these days. What’s wrong with bran-flakes and a few brussel sprouts? I say, these pharmaceutical companies should take their suppositeries and stick ‘em up their … oh.

    fmc – butter, a splash of milk and a block of full-fat Philadelphia. I learnt this recipe for ambrosia from a genius/angel at the pre-school playground.

    Footles, I remember my last Fondant Fancy … let me tell you about it. It was autumn, as I recall, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness …
    It was years later before I realised that that was from a Keats poem and not really some avuncular baker with a nice garden. In my defence, I was only wee when that ad was on.

    Mom101, I let you all down on Independence Day, I’m afraid. I didn’t eat one potato and somewhere in the machair of the Hebrides, my ancestors rolled in their graves. Instead I had other manifestations of greasy holiday food, which I can’t say I enjoyed all that much. I should have been truer to myself, I know that now.

    Mr. Nanas – no spud guns to my recollection. We don’t play with our food in Lewis. The only time a potato might have been hurled was if someone had undercooked the chicken.

    Emma, you make them sound so cute – I’ll feel like a barbarian eating them now!

    Swearing Lady, I’ll wager you’ve eaten a fair few tatties in your own life. Best thing for a blackened spud-eye is a raw steak. And voila! You have your tea too.

  9. PCB, a question: Do you have any other vegetable poetry that you might share? Specifically, I’m looking for something of tribute to the Turnip but just about any root type veggie would do. Just asking.

  10. I knew a man who constructed a potato canon out of PVC pipe. The fuel chamber was connected to a unlit propane torch, and there was an ignition coil stolen from a grill….
    the fearsome beast fired potatos two full blocks, and was used to abuse a nearby billboard which was, if I remember correctly, extolling the virtue of malt liquors.

    I had a potato and an ear of corn for lunch today. Very delicious, but NOT as delicious as your wonderful potato post.
    The poetry in motion made me wet my pants like a startled schoolgirl.*

    * Perhaps an over-hydrated school girl.

  11. SafeTinspector – A potato canon. Gosh. What next? A buttersquash bishop? An artichoke archdeacon? Or perhaps The Vegetable Bede?

    PCB – loved the poem. I’m sure a vegetable-based revue would find an audience (we get odder stuff in the Edinburgh Fringe).

  12. I too am Hebridean, but am married to an Irish man so you can just imagine the level of potato-worshipping in this household. Whenever there aren’t any potatoes served with dinner there is this deathly hush as my husband scans the table helplessly, perspiring slightly as the awful reaslisation of a potato-less meal hits home. Then the weeping starts.

    But I do like my roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes too.

    And my carrots (sometimes grated raw, drizzled with a little bit of honey and a smidgen of butter and cooked in an oven for about 5 mins) Still no competition for the humble yet noble steamed buntata (Gaelic for potato) with lots of butter and a bit of salt mashed into it. All hail to the Buntata!

  13. Joel, there is a whole, sadly neglected, body of literature devoted to the turnip, but I believe it’s mostly an underground movement…

    SafeT, speaking as a former schoolgirl living on an island where starting events were not uncommon, I don’t believe I ever had the reaction you describe, no matter how many drinks I’d had.

    Rob, sadly, the Edinburgh people have no interest in potatoes, despite this being a clear instance of them turning their back on the (horti)culture. Philistines! They’d sooner eat a potato than read a poem about one.

    Suebob – welcome. Pleased to make your aquaintance. I couldn’t get the link to work but I imagine the Vegetable Orchestra is accompanied by a Gratin section next to the bassoons. All the best Veggie Orchestras are.

    Emma, welcome also. Thank you. At the moment the great potato revolution has only one intellectual to trumpet its cause and I’m just a pseudo-intellectual and even then only at lunch-times.

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