Mash - Glorious Mash!

Who doesn’t like mashed potato? Having posed the question I am sure someone will come back to me saying they hate it.

It is one of those wonderfully comforting winter warmers. My mash is, I am informed by my daughters, considered legendary amongst their friends. Apparently it is some of the best mash they have had.

Recently, Briony was watching me make the mash.

That’s a lot of butter! No wonder your mash is so good!’

Everything tastes better with butter. That is how my dad got Rowan to eat her toast crusts: loading them with butter: nom, nom, nom. A thing her older sister thought, and still thinks to be totally outrageous.

Back to the mash. Yes, lashings of butter, a pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper and some milk. I take my time to mash them thoroughly and ensure they are lump free. Then the real secret, beat them with a wooden spoon back on a low heat. Add more milk to make sure they don’t go dry, but not too much because you don’t want sloppy mash. Et voila: you have it! Simple.

A few years ago I discovered that mash is far more than a meal accompaniment: it makes a fantastic race food. It has all the constituent parts: carbohydrate, fat and protein (especially if cheese is added). It requires no effort to eat, slipping down easily and is easy on the digestive system.

Obviously not suitable for all events unless you can factor in carrying a food thermos, but great for supported races where your crew can whip out a small camping stove and heat it through, frying it up with, of course, extra butter and cheese. Manna from heaven, nectar of the Gods; there is nothing quite so satisfying or comforting as that soft, fluffy, buttery, cheesy hot mash during the night or early morning. It has revived me during the Glenmore 24 (twice) and the West Highland Way.

It gets some good and much needed calories in, but to be able to have something savoury and hot makes a huge difference. One of the ultimate comfort foods it revives you mentally and physically. Taking the time to stop for those few precious minutes to eat it is so beneficial. It is a few minutes of calm and respite that allows you to catch your breath, recalibrate, readjust and set off with greater positivity. So often in races, it is all about getting through the check points as quickly as possible, grabbing food and eating on the go, not to mention the high proportion of sweet foodstuffs. It is not wasted time. Believe me, your body will appreciate that hot real food. You can change your kit, put on fresh socks and shoes, re-fill your water bottles and re-stock your pack with other provisions while waiting for and eating the mash. It won’t affect your time much and you may even pick up the pace as a result.

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Mash is the one thing in the ‘pic-a-nic basket’ that Alasdair can always tempt the growly bear to eat.


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