Daily Dirt: Never underestimate the culinary value of a tater, especially those thug-like tots

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Daily Dirt for Saturday, April 2, 2022

There are quite a few tantalizing ways to serve potatoes, but keep those stringy fries away from my table … Welcome to Vol. 249 of The Daily Dirt.

1. In my mind, one of the most underrated foods is the potato.

There are so many ways to enjoy this little fellow, and I think we take the potato for granted way too often. My favorite forms of potato are:

1. French fries/wedges: The gold medal of taters. Nothing better to accompany a burger — or about anything else — than a serving of wholesome, semi-crisp fries or wedges. And don’t try and sneak me an order of those itsy, bitsy shoestring string versions. I want my fries with a healthy waistline. (For the record, the worst fast-food fries are the shoestringers from Steak ‘N Shake, which are usually cold anyway. That’s why I always order onion rings when driving through or dining in at S-N-S.)

2. Baked: Hot, steaming, the butter melting. At a sit-down dinner, a baked potato is the perfect accompaniment to a steak or some other form of one-time animal flesh. At some eateries, the baked potatoes are served with salt baked on to the skin. That, my friends, is amazing.

3. Tater tots: The tots are like a street gang of rebel potatoes. If needed, they could outrun their baked brethren or simply beat the crap out of their shoestring rivals.

4. Mashed: I like my mashed potatoes to be of the relatively firm nature, having a little body to them, even a lump or two. I do not like those runny versions that can’t hold their ground on your dinner plate.

5. Potato salad: This has been an acquired taste for me over the years. I like it frigid, not room temperature, and I also prefer generous chunks of egg white and the potato pieces big enough to stab with a fork. Celery is a perfect addition, but only on a limited scale. And do not, under any circunstances, try and sneak in a chopped up pickle. No, no, no.

6. Potato skins: Another solid entry, but be careful of not putting too much or too many toppings. Bacon bit and cheese are my favorite toppings.

7. Potato chips: I love all brands, but I don’t like my chips burnt. I want them white.

8. McDonald’s hash browns: One of my favorite parts of those McDonald’s breakfasts.

9. Scalloped potatoes: Like the mashed potatoes, these cannot be runny — and crispy on the top.

10. Waffle fries/curly fries: I’m not sure if these should be included with No. 1 or not, but to seem thery seemed like a separate entity.

2. Under the “you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up” category:

I noticed a few days ago the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team was losing a player to the transfer portal. Her name? Treasure Hunt.

3. Today’s preseason baseball look involves the American League West:

Order of finish: 1. Houston, 2. Seattle, 3. Los Angeles, 4. Texas, 5. Oakland.

Why: Granted, the Astros lost shortstop Carlos Correa to free agency, but it won’t matter in this division. The club’s pitching is head-and-shoulders above the rest of AL West, and if Justin Verlander returns to the rotation following Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation, the Astros will be even stronger. Seattle and Los Angeles are capable of moderate challenges, Texas is spending a lot of money but its rebuild is still years away from fruition, and Oakland is looking more and more like Pittsburgh following its teardown.

AL West MVP: Shohei Ohtani, Angels.

AL West Cy Young: Shohei Ohtani, Angels.

Best manager: Dusty Baker, Astros.

Best uniforms: Athletics, especially the Kelly green tops,

Steve Thought O’ The Day — If Steve were a tater, he would be a baked potato. A big baked potato. The Andre the Giant of baked potatoes.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. He will now be called “Mr. Potato Head”.

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