Sunday, July 31, 2011

Heart-shaped potatoes

"Buh-day-duhs," as my maternal grandfather John P. Dunne (1911-1994) used to pronounce them, grow in many anomalous shapes - which makes heart-shaped potatoes less rare than you would think. The cook at Tina's Cafe in Nebraska found one, and so did the staff at K's Cafe in Wales (4th image). On a slow news day, it seems that just a good photo of a the finder clutching his or her prize will suffice. Here is Pennsylvania woman Linda Greene with her potato and South Carolinian Melissa-Sylvia Maggart with hers. Some people post their own photos of heart potatoes before they eat them: Marta found one at a Brooklyn food coop (2nd image), and Lauri Rantala shared one that she snapped at her kitchen sink in Finland (3rd image). Often, mention in the news requires a combination of coincidences. Last week, a Serbian farmer and a Chinese grocer discovered heart-shaped potatoes on the same day (5th image). Last year, a Florida woman found a heart-shaped potato in her grocery bag on Valentine's Day. In 2009, a British woman sold a heart-shaped potato on Ebay to raise money for charity, suggesting that the spud "could be cooked and then frozen to be given as a Valentine's gift." But perhaps the most newsworthy heart-shaped potato was the tiny one featured on "Late Night with David Letterman" on the evening when newly-elected President Barack Obama appeared (1st image). Obama joked with the host about the reason for his appearance on the show saying, “The main reason I’m here? I want to see that heart-shaped potato.” The president was said to have been upstaged by the tuber, which was presented to him by its owner. "Mary Apple? Is your name really Mary Apple? And you carry heart-shaped potatoes around?," he asked. Though they basked in their 15 minutes of fame, Mr. and Mrs. Apple - who considered the shriveled keepsake a good luck charm - regretted giving it away, even to the head of state: “We were afraid he might just toss it. I’m a little sad. It’s like when one of your children grows up and sprouts wings.”

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