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Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 17, 2012: Mashed Potato Throwdown

Around Thanksgiving, one of my students, Bindhu, revealed that someone had asked her to make mashed potatoes and bring them to their Thanksgiving feast...and that there was a problem. She didn't know how to make mashed potatoes.

To a Southern woman like me who was taught that cooking was the way you fed your family, kept your husband and children up and at 'em, and to whom inexpensive ingredients, like pototoes reigned supreme, this was akin to having someone say, "No one taught me how to breathe."
You will see Ms. Bindu pictured below third from the left at the departmental Christmas suare. Lest you think her mashed potato faux pas is cultural, Bindu was born and raised in DALLAS, TEXAS, one of the universal epicenters of potato cookery. Lest you think even in the land of the Cowboy, she was schooled in Indian cooking, think again. Bindu just doesn't cook alot. But since she is from T&T (Tennessee and Texas), a group of us believed in our very souls that it was wrong to let Bindu continue in such a state of errancy...akin in the South to living for years as a heroin junkie.
As we discussed who should teach Bindu how to make mash potatoes, a series of mashed potato boasts arose--mostly from folks pictured above. Valerie Sam, first person on the left, bragged that her husband T-bone, instead of tender words, wooed her with soft spuds. Christy Lawson who is pictured to the right of Bindu displayed hubris over her hubby's Bleu Cheese and Walnut Mash.
Mariah Alexander, second person from the right, brazenly claimed her grandmother's mashed potato paprika was the winner.

Sagar Gandhi, another Texan, claimed he made the best potato on earth utilizing the diminutive red skinned potato.

So what could we do but have a MASHED POTATO THROWDOWN?
We invited world class judges, Jenni McClintic, food scientist for Bush's beans, pictured here with our other distinguished and highly qualified judge, Chef Amanda Stokes.

To round out our panel, we invited Lisa Daley, greeting card creator and home cook who made the best mashed potato I personally have ever tasted.
She is pictured here with her husband Brian who is a partner at my medical practice and who loves mashed potatoes. We didn't let him judge, though, because he knows the contestants and couldn't be UNBIASED.
After a whole kitchen full of cooks and lots of angst and trash talk, the winner was :
Christy Lawson with her Bleu Cheese and Walnut Mash.

This was definitely the highest end potato in the lot...maybe not the most traditional though and I think with our panel of judges, tradition didn't cut it!

So Christy deservedly took home the 2012 Mashed Potato Throwdown trophy. I am going to get her to give me that recipe, so I can post it for my followers.
People's choice winner was:
Mariah Alexander (she's the meat in the sandwich picture)with grandma's paprika potatoes. Not a bad showing for a girl from Guin, Alabama!

As for the "other contestants," they have nothing to be ashamed of. They made awesome potatoes. And hopefully, Bindu sees that the beauty of mashed is in the eye of the potato!

Thanks a million to everyone who came and did not compete, but spurred our contestants on to VICTORY or not...Lindsay Raumbarger (the last lovely lady inthe Sexy Women of the UT Christmas party photo), Denise Coryell--always sexy even in sweatpants, and to spouses, my niece, Paige who brought the brownies from Chick Fil A, and mostly MY SPOUSE, Paul, who spent a good bit of Friday getting wine/beer and setting up and cleaning up. You are the very best, my dear.


  1. I love mashed potatoes and would happily try all types and varieties,except maybe if they had coconut in them.

  2. These were so good! I don't even know if coconut could ruin them.

  3. Man, I love mashed potatoes. I really, really loved mashed potatoes. Instant ones, homemade ones, bad ones, good ones. It really doesn't matter. I'd be a horribly judge, because they would all be awesome.