Friday, November 23, 2012

Filling You in on Filling

If you're not from Central Pennsylvania, there's a good chance you've never heard the hallowed words, "potato filling," before. 

I'm so sorry if you're not Pennsylvania Dutch;some people are just born lucky, I guess. And mostly, those of us who are PA Dutch are lucky because of one single, solitary food. 

Yes, shoo-fly pie is delicious. Some people like pickled red beets. I was raised on Lebanon bologna and American cheese sandwiches. There's chicken rivel soup and all kinds of pot pies to salivate over. 

But let's talk about the king of them all.

Potato filling. 

Potato filling is a delicious mix of potatoes (what else?), bread, butter, celery, onions, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Humble ingredients, yes, but when sauteed and then whipped and then baked, you get a thing of beauty. Potato filling takes the place of traditional stuffing or dressing-- we don't do the put-stuff-inside-of-the-turkey thing that most people do.

In my family, potato filling comes but three times a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Don't even ask for it at another time. You will be sorely disappointed. (For the first time in my life, there'll be an exception. This year, we get it a fourth time-- when John comes home for R&R and visits my folks.) While the side dishes are subject to change, potato filling is a non-negotiable. A holiday without it just wouldn't be a holiday.

On my list of things to do this year, I wanted to learn how to make Thanksgiving dinner, just in case John and I find ourselves somewhere else next year. My mom, an organizational and planning maven, already had all of the dishes ready to go and stored in the freezer, just waiting to be baked on Thanksgiving Day, by the time that I got to Pennsylvania. So instead, I sat in the kitchen with her as dinner cooked on Thanksgiving morning. It's as close as I could get to check this one off the list.

But I did have three helpings of filling. That seems like a fair trade-off to me.

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