Different kinds of potatoes

Photo: Richard Gerhard Jung

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Even the airlines can't ruin potatoes. "I think you could probably make them disgusting if you worked really, really hard," says Roy Finamore, author of the new cookbook One Potato Two Potato, "but you'd have to work with both hands for a week." So imagine the heights you can soar to with even the most minimal effort in the other direction. Here's one of Finamore's favorite potato recipes: Boil or bake; add salt. Sure, you can get fancy, preparing heirloom varieties with a bit more fuss, and the results can be incomparable. But potatoes aren't just a blank canvas. "As much as they accept almost any kind of flavor that you want to add to them," Finamore says, "on their own they're far from bland and innocuous, unlike, say, tofu." To him, the endless variety is "gravy"; the true glory of potatoes is in their democratic appeal. "The fact that there are really good potatoes that anybody can get from a grocery store is a great comfort," he says. "Potatoes are the people's food."

Next: Try these delicious potato recipes