Im very fond of mashed potato. Its so comforting.
Of course, you need sausages and onion gravy to go with it, but fluffed up with
a fork and with the addition of hot milk and a bit of butter it is a feast.
not particularly a part of Ibicenco food culture, largely because the red-skinned
potatoes that grow here are perfectly good peeled, cut into chunks and boiled
with nothing else done to them. Thats apart from the lovely salt added by
They also seem to grow several crops a year.
Ive seen a family harvesting a field of them near San José and cutting
some in half and replanting them straight away, something you cant do in
most of the world.
Now I see that the worlds first
mashed potato expert has been appointed by supermarket Tesco to crack a market
worth millions of Euros.
Irish girl Seaneen ONeill
- or Miss Mash as Tesco would have her known - will be in charge of making sure
that all of the mashed potato Tesco sells is the best in the world.
mash? Is it boring to peel a few potatoes and mash em up?
appointment is an official recognition of what everyone in Ireland has always
believed and no-one in Ibiza seems to have considered: making top class mashed
potato isnt a mundane chore but an art form.
lovely-named Seaneen (I hope thats not patronising, or Martin will be onto
me) allegedly says: Even the direction you beat the potatoes - and the mood
youre in when you do it - will have an influence upon the final taste and
I take the mood youre in
to mean whether youve just downed the one which could be anything from a
large Scotch to a glass of wine larger than the one you are going to add to the
Tasting fine mash is like tasting vintage
wine - once youve experienced it, theres no going back, says
Seaneen in a press release that popped up in my email today. So I think shes
got the point even if I havent got the plateful.
believes Seaneens fine palate - and a collection of recipes handed down
by her grandmother - will give them a major advantage in a ready-meal market worth
a million Euros a year.
I think there is a market for
instant mash, as long as it is made from real potatoes, but this gushing press
release is a bit more than I can take and I suppose that its because years
of drinking still make me hanker for making a dollop of mashed potatoes without
the help of a supermarket.
Seanaans alleged knowledge
and taste buds have helped develop Tescos prestigious finest range of ready
meal foods, it says here.
Some of her spud mixes include
Finest Irish Cheddar Mash, Finest Bacon and Spring Onion Mash, and Finest Cumberland
Sausage and Double Butter Mash.
As yet there isnt
a Finest Soberasada With Added Paprika (Dulce) Mash, but there could be.
nowadays a mainland rather than an Island person remarks: Knowing that
millions of people every week are eating the recipes Ive helped develop
is an incredible thrill.
I believe that good
mashed potato is one of our national delicacies. The rich, smooth melt-in-your
mouth flavour acts as the perfect backdrop to all genres of cooking as well as
being a perfect dish to eat on its own.
and bred in Bangor, Northern Ireland, Seaneens finely tuned palate can select
the best quality mash even when shes blindfolded. It says... Can you picture
Seaneen with her blindfold on and a forkful of mash heading towards what in Ireland
they would call her gob?
The press release says Miss Mash
spends several hours each week tasting mashed potato made from a huge number of
potato varieties as well as mash made using different cooking methods and ingredients.
Well I know lots of building workers and truck drivers who spend several hours
EACH DAY doing the same thing and they pay for the privilege.
press release about Seaneen, who is only 23, is a masterpiece and I cant
help repeating it here. She is quoted as saying: The quality of mash
can vary even within batches of the same potatoes grown in adjacent fields. Using
milk produced at different times of the year or form (sic) different herds can
also have an effect.
Even the order that
the ingredients are added to the final mix can also play a part.
constantly looking for a rich flavour and smooth buttery taste, together with
a linen white appearance. The ideal mash should also have a slight fluffy stiffness
so that the mash can sit up the plate, yet still melt in the mouth.
a girl I would eat mash daily and would make traditional Champ and Colcannon mash
with my mum and gran.
I cant get enough
of the stuff and with so much mash-tasting experience; I guess I have become a
connoisseur of this Irish institution.
Ireland we have mash-making down to a fine art and its a privilege to be
able to pass on this knowledge to Tesco.
Irish pubs and restaurants to taste authentic Irish mash dishes is also an important
element to Miss Mashs research. I seem to remember that tasting the slow-poured
Guinness was of more concern to me, but thats another story and another
But Seaneen is also giving mash what Tesco calls
a more modern flavour with new ready meal dishes such as Pancetta
and Spring Onion Mash, and Mustard and Onion Mash. What on earth is more
modern about adding some mustard is a mystery to me?
milk instead of cream gives a lighter mash texture, it says here. But it doesnt
tell you the milk should be hot, because they are not telling you how to make
it, but making the case that you should buy it already made by them.
is quoted as saying: Its like choosing a pastel colour rather than
a saturated hue to let the subtlety of the accompanying ingredients come to the
Thats the beauty of mash - altering
the combinations gives you the most versatile food in the world.
She should be writing the LiveIbiza.com Artists on Ibiza feature.
was selected from a number of mash students at Jordanstown University in Northern
Ireland. I wish Id been a mash student. Can you imagine what it would be
like to spend your formative years mashing potatoes and finishing up with a good
job at Tescos?
I suppose we have to remember the
rest of her class who may be great at mash, but havent got a job. I think
Id like to marry one of them.
Her tips for good mash
are to use potatoes such as King Edwards or Desiree, full cream, and good
quality butter and cheddar. I think hot milk is better, but shes keeping
some of the other vital tips a secret and anyway shes never seen thrice
a year potatoes from Ibiza, Ill bet.
I have and Ive
had to buy them because there was nothing else and I must say that the ones that
finish up in the market for general consumption are not as attractive as the ones
people grow for themselves and I think thats to do with the islands
I think we should get Seaneen (dont you
just love her name; Sean with a female-identifying appendage and I keep thinking
Miss Mash, she was having bash) over to Ibiza and see what she can
do with the red-skinned numbers.
You see she says the potatoes
you use can make or break the quality of the mash you produce and using butter
and cheese with strong and distinctive flavours is vital. The problem is that
cows dont seem to like the environment too much in Ibiza, where goats love
it and so do the expats who live here.
like their mash creamy and fluffy rather than stodgy and thick, so the trick is
to use lots of fresh full cream, Seaneen says.
I love this
next bit because it is so obviously made up: Tescos category manager (category
manager?) John Burry says: Seaneen is to mash what jelly is to ice-cream
- they both go hand in hand. Take away Miss Mash you might as well take away the
Who better to create traditional
mash than an Irish mash expert with a passion for potatoes?
would say anyone with a potato peeler, a pile of spuds and some hot milk - assuming
you are sober enough to cope - could make their own, but its not the way
the world and certainly Tesco is going.
For more information
contact Gemma Hornett on +44 7850 93166 or Tesco Corporate Affairs on +44 1992
644645. Actually you could spend an aimless ten minutes looking at Tescos
website, in case they decide to branch out to Ibiza. Perhaps you could email them
and suggest they should, branch out to the Balearics on the basis that you will
be able to get instant mashed potato and forgo the drink that goes with making