I decided to ask some folks what food they would pick. I called my old college roommate, who once lived on Coors for three months. He opted for Chuckles, the licorice ones, but only after I nixed his first choice: Orange PEZ.
Then I asked my wife to name just one food. "I'd choose beef stew," she responded.
"You can't say beef stew. That has meat, carrots, onions, potatoes, celery, and tomato sauce."
"Ooh, that does sound delish. Yes, beef stew. Definitely, beef stew."
The answer to this question was easy for Chris Voight, an unrepentant spud lover who also just happens to be Executive Director of the Washington State Potato Commission. Unhappy with the local school district's decision to cut fattening foods from the lunch menu, Chris pledged to eat nothing but taters for 60 days. Approximately 1,200 of them.
Because of his executive position, Chris decided to put his money where his mouth is...as opposed to his hero, Mr. Potato Head, who can put his mouth where his nose is and his ear where his eye is. As you read this, Chris has probably made it about halfway through his potato marathon, which is probably a better rate than what's going through his alimentary canal.
"There are lots of myths about potatoes," says Chris, in defense of his favorite tuberous vegetable. For example, many people think potatoes have a lot of starch. "Actually, that's true," admits Chris. Okay, here's another one: If you don't stab the potato with a fork before you bake it, it can explode inside your oven. On this last point, there is some spirited disagreement, one of many wedge issues Chris must deal with.
Chris wants you to know that potatoes are full of vitamins and minerals, which makes that silly slice of orange they drape across the plate on Denny's Grand Slam breakfast seem redundant. Need your daily C? Just order another platter of home fries. I have a friend who eats the Grand Slam every morning and he hasn't had a cold in 30 years. He weighs 300 pounds--but not a sniffle.
Baked potatoes are the mainstay of Chris' diet but he warns potential devotees of his current regimen to take their preparation seriously. If you Google "how long to bake a potato" you get three million hits, which is more sites than "how to pass your entire body through an un-stringed tennis racquet," or "how to find true love at Starbucks."
Chris has dined on the simple baked potato, the twice-baked potato, and the yummy thrice-baked potato. Also, French fries, mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, gnocchi and tater tots. Has Chris gone a bit over the edge in his quest to publicize his favorite veggie? "I don't want people to take the potato for gratin." Yeah, that's the way he talks now.
After the first two weeks of his single-food plan, Chris admitted he was feeling a little ill. Half-baked was the term he used. This past Thursday, he discovered you can buy vodka made out of potatoes. Now he's half-fried.