The Marjorie E. Peale Prize
Three Hot Potatoes
Winter’s coming. Need to get yourself
down to one of the islands—James or Johns—
to see if you can find yourself a roadside
stand in front of a potato bank where you
can buy yourself a couple of pounds for cold-
weather cooking. “Hoppin John” Martin
in his LOWCOUNTRY COOKING says he uses
sweets in breads and soups and orange shells.
You can steal his idea of mashing whites
and sweets together to eat with meat on a frosty
night. Says the Porto Rico sweet potato
is a Lowcountry favorite, with its rust-colored
jacket and reddish orange flesh.
Those are colors Van Gogh might have used,
along with yellow and black and blue, if he
had painted potato eaters in his later years.
If in a thrift or junk shop you should come across
one of his early drawings of a poor family
in the Borinage at table praying
over their modest meal, pick it up.
Potatoes saved their lives. You might save
yours by selling the work for a hot million.
After buying your sack of potatoes, go back
into Charleston and try to find the whereabouts
of Alfred Hutty’s watercolor “The Potato Pickers.”
Done in a black and yellowish wash, this study
depicts three women bending to the task,
two others standing up in consultation
with a man (the foreman?) under a moss-draped oak.
It’s a lot more than cold potatoes.