Back in the day I used to work on film sets. No, not nearly as much fun as it might sound. No, I can't get a job with Peter Jackson, so don't ask.
Getting back to the topic, there is one thing that I will always remember fondly about working in film, and that is the catering. Well, not always. Certain jobs spring to mind and make me shudder, but for the most part, I remember being pretty well fed on most jobs.
The thing that amazed me most, however, was how excited people got when there was mashed potato on the menu.
People! I would say. It's mashed potato, for crying out loud! I would say.
It was only then that I realised how lucky I had been to have a mum who dished us up mashed potato on a fairly regular basis. As it turns out, a good old ladelful of mashed spud was a right royal treat for most people who weren't me.
Of course, as you can imagine, there are varying degrees of deliciousness to mashed spud. And over the years I've picked up a few little extras that tip the humble mashed spud over into the divine.
What a few film techs wouldn't give to eat dinner at my house one night!
World's Best Ever Mashed Potato
(Serves 4)200g Boiling Potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
1 large Kumera, peeled and diced as above
1/2 an onion, chopped
1/4 C Colby Cheese, grated
Freshly Ground Pepper and Salt
Rinse the potatoes and kumera, then add fresh water and salt and place on a high heat to boil. Meanwhile, fry up your onion and set aside (I did this first, as I then used the pan to cook some lovely lamb sausages - but I digress).
When the potatoes are cooked, and simply fall apart when you poke them with a fork, remove from the heat and drain the water off. If you want to keep a gluten-free thickener on hand, I recommend reserving this water and freezing it to add to soups or stocks later.
Add a knob of butter and a dash of milk to the potato, about 3T. Mix in.
Add the cooked onion and go wild with the fork. No flash equipment is required here, not even a potato masher. A humble old fork and a speedy wrist are all that's required to whip your spuds up to a creamy lather.
If it seems a bit dry, add a bit more milk until it flows freely through the tines.
Add the grated cheese and a little seasoning of pepper, and whip the cheese in.
Dish up in a ragged swirl in the centre of the plate. You will find there is no better accompaniment for gravy in the whole wide world.