Robert Ehlert: The Idaho Potato Drop is great for Boise

rehlert@idahostatesman.comDecember 31, 2013 

Robert Ehlert

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If you have been following the commentary here, you know there are people in my household who struggle with potato addiction.

Baked and flaked, boiled and broiled, french fried and hash-browned, chipped and dipped, mashed and bashed, grilled and gnocchied, souped and saladized — it just doesn’t matter how they get their fix.

Though I encourage you all to be spec-taters tonight at the first ever Idaho Potato Drop, the prospect of a 17-foot potato dropping into the fry basket of humanity at midnight at the U.S. Bank building might be too much for someone I know who can’t be trusted in the vicinity of a “potato bar.”

Granted, this is great for Boise, the Treasure Valley, Idaho, Ore-Ida and the Simplots, but this kind of Russet-Red-Golden-Fingerling fantasy could be a precarious hot potato for the people ... who struggle.

The great potato potentate Dylan Cline, erstwhile commissioner of the Idaho New Year’s Commission and organizer of The Drop, is doing a wonderful service for the community. I love the idea were it not for placing potato-dependent loved ones in proximity to large portions of solanum tuberosum (that’s plant talk for taters).

That said, we want to commend Cline and his spud buds for bringing something new and exciting to the Boise area just when we needed it most.

I don’t know about you, but my usual routine on New Year’s Eve is a victimless crime: watch bad football, badly behaving revelers and bad celebrities attempting to do the Dick Clark (we miss you). Some hold out promise for Ryan Seacrest to blossom into the New Cool version of DC and channel that “but can you dance to it” style of The Eternally Classy One, but nobody will ever have the original’s combination of swept-back hair and laid-back demeanor.

After bouncing around in a dozen different states, I have longed to live somewhere where visionaries mustered the courage to take on the Big Apple domination of New Year’s Eve.

The time ball at Times Square is nothing but an antiquated mariner’s navigation gimmick that rightly has been retired to shore. The throngs attending are mesmerized by light, glitz and the shiny, shallow object offerings of the big city as if they were schools of fish tracking a lure. There’s nothing agrarian, organic or genuine about it.

And where’s the fiber?

A potato is a natural, nurturing source with chromosomes, eyes, skin and the starch to stand up to time and sprout the news of the New Year — with whatever topping suits you.

When Cline tells the story about his vision for The Drop, I have visions of my Mom’s potato salad, scalloped potatoes and ham, Texas fries and potato soup with leeks and bacon.

Though Cline had some trouble selling the Idaho Potato Drop initiative for a while, there is no stopping him now.

I have done some research and learned that Cline and his musician friends are behind this. What is needed next is an Idaho Potato Drop song, an anthem or an ode to time and tubers.

A good place to start would be to take a listen to Guy Clark, the Texan who wrote the backyard garden/culinary classic, “Homegrown Tomatoes”:

"Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes

What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes?

Only two things that money can’t buy

And that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes."

I suggest Cline commission his lyrical friends or members of the Idaho Songwriter’s Association to get right on it. Steve Eaton, Ron Dyer and Jack Loyd Gish could start meeting at the Boise Fry Company or West Side Drive-In and knock out the licks and lyrics for this one over a couple of orders of fries or Tater Tots.

It’s time to potato up, Boise. Years, decades from now, you can say you were there in 2014 when Mountain Time became Potato Time.

Get behind this one, Idaho, peels and all.

Happy New Year.

Robert Ehlert is the Statesman’s editorial page editor. Contact him at 377-6437, or on Twitter @IDS_HelloIdaho.

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