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We are currently on Potato Island, a visit that came via a deserted island and an adherence to strict planning.
Best I explain, right?
In our family, we have a weekly meal plan. We plan breakfast, lunch and dinner for the three of us seven days a week. My job is the planning, shopping, prepped and packing. It’s something we’ve done for years, and never fails to entertain and amuse our friends who think we are more than slightly odd. The meal plan changes every week too. Breakfast is usually cooked, and dinners are rarely repeated. I have an endless collection of recipes I’ve ripped out of magazines and a bookshelf full of cookbooks that we rotate through. As often as not we have a theme week, where we’ll base all the meals around a central idea.
Last week, we were on a deserted island right here in the Byron Hinterland.
We’d had a very random conversation at the dinner table a few weeks previously, contemplating what three ingredients would we each want if stranded on a deserted island. It’s the kind of quirky discussion we like to have! Many options were canvassed, bartering ensued, and a reasonably balanced diet was established. Broccoli, edamame, sourdough, avocado, fish, potatoes, eggs, pears and corn were in the basket, so to speak.
Not a bad mix.
The conversation naturally flowed in the direction of applying the theme to a week’s worth of meals. Ground rules were established, and we agreed that staples of oil, salt and pepper, milk, yoghurt and coffee were allowed. Apparently this was to be a well-stock island! The garden was free for me to use at will, ditto eggs from the chooks, and some condiments or additions by way of sriracha, parmesan and the like were ok too.
It turned out to be a fun week and liberating in its simplicity. I discovered that using less was more. I loved the ease of it and decided we should push the theme one step further.
Potato Island here we come! From nine core ingredients to just one: the humble spud.
It wasn’t a completely novel destination. There’s a man from Victoria who once spent a year eating only potatoes. I’d heard him on a podcast a few years ago and found it fascinating. For someone whose business is based around local food and ingredients, the prospect of restriction on that scale is hard to fathom. But I’m also intrigued by the stoicism of it. My fellow travellers arched a little at my proposal, so we agreed to play a little fast and loose. I think the teachers at school would be mystified if my daughter turned up with potatoes, and only potatoes, in her lunchbox for a week! We’re doing breakfasts and dinners, with lunches a little more flexible.
The shopping trip was heavy, literally. Kilos of bloody potatoes! Thankfully the Northern Rivers is one of the country’s primary regions for growing sweet potatoes, so we have options to choose from. I’m not sure the sweet potato roadside stand at Mullum has recovered from the sheer number of spuds I bought though. At the mid-way point we’ve done hash browns, baked potatoes and potato soup. Last night was potato gratin and tonight will be roast potatoes with something green I yank out of the garden. I even reinvented congee as pongee, substituting rice for spuds. Nice.
I am trying to keep it simple, to force myself not to complicate. It goes against my nature on many levels and that’s what makes it challenging and interesting and probably much needed. A food reset if you will.
I just may not want to eat potatoes again for a while!
The struggle is real! I guess that makes me one of the real people, making real food at real places.