Friday, November 28, 2008


Thanksgiving was one of those holidays I didn’t think much about until I didn’t have it. I thought West Texas was foreign and far away until I moved to the high Andes Mountains.

There were no grocery stores but there was an open market where I bought fruits and vegetables. The fly-covered meat and poultry hanging in the hot sun was just a bit much for me. The place was filthy and it stunk. Mind you, I loved that market. I really did.

Every week was a new experience. I had two huge market baskets that I would drag along as I bought my week’s worth of produce. There were probably ten potato stands selling many varieties of potatoes, potatoes I had never seen before. The Potato Ladies, as I dubbed them, were an arrogant raucous group of women who fought over customers. They were arrogant because potatoes were a staple in the Andean diet so they knew people would always buy potatoes before other foods. I bought potatoes for the challenge.

Entering the area of the market where the Potato Ladies held forth I would mentally pull up my guard and keep my head down as the yelling started, each one competing for my business. Hesitation was not allowed. I’d do a quick look through the bins of potatoes and make my choice. Pulling out my money I’d run up, grab my potatoes and make the transaction while the other Potato Ladies would yell curses at my vendor.

It wasn’t over yet. Bravely I’d turn to face the wild potato vendors who, having used up all their swear words for the moment, would begin lobbing potatoes at me as I ducked my head and dragged my baskets past them into the main part of the market. If I got hit as I ran the gauntlet there was huge laughter.

As I said, I did it for the challenge. These women were democratic. They threw potatoes at everyone and they were genuinely sad when I left. I got hugs from all of them the day I went to say goodbye.

Each Thanksgiving as I prepare the mashed potatoes I smile thinking of the Potato Ladies. I love potatoes.

1 comment:

A Week's Worth of Women said...

Now I know why you make the best mashed potatoes ever. Thanks for the colorful backdrop to the spuds.