A few weeks ago my wife served up a catered lunch for all of the teachers at Michael’s elementary school to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. One of the dishes served, something called “Italian Potatoes” was more addictive than crack.
I’ve never actually done crack, so I can’t speak from experience, but from what I’ve heard about its addictive properties, like severe withdrawal if you can’t get a taste and the intense craving people have to recapture that initial high, it has to be close.
Had I not been forced to maintain some level of decorum at the luncheon, I probably would have given into temptation and mugged a few teachers before running off with the chafing dish. Instead, I sat quietly and watched over the tray of Italian Potatoes like a hawk. As people approached, I’d subtly glare at them with great disdain.
There may have even been a few guttural growls because I knew that every spoonful they greedily scooped onto their already food-laden plates was one less spoonful I’d be able to take home with me.
When it was over and their bellies were full, these vultures started breaking out the Tupperware they’d brought from home and proceeded to scoop and ladle all the goodness into their containers like it was some UN food drop. In the end, I was left with one lonely plate of Italian Potatoes. The rest had been heartlessly ripped from my clutches by people for whom the luncheon was actually for.
I can’t provide you with a recipe but I know their variation of this magical dish was created with sliced Italian sausage, potatoes, peppers, onions, and a tongue-teasing array of unidentifiable spices and flavorings.
Tonight, I couldn’t take it any more. I had gone to the grocery store to pick up some things for Heather and I passed the Italian sausage. I passed peppers, onions, and potatoes. I even passed by the spices. All I could think about was the hankerin’ I had for that dish.
Unable to suppress the urge, I called the only known dealer in town, the local tavern that catered the event. As I paced the grocer’s aisles, I could feel the need for a fix growing stronger and stronger.
Me: “Yes, hello. Thank God you’re there. I need a fix. You gotta gimme a taste.”
Dewey’s: “Okayyyy,” she said laughing, “Of what?”
Me: “The Italian Potatoes. I need to order a plate of that.”
Dewey’s: “Oh, I’m sorry, that’s not on our regular menu. It’s only for catered events.”
Me (thinking fast): “Perfect. That’s what I need it for. I’m having a party tomorrow. How much is a tray of it?”
Dewey’s: “Well, a large is $50 and a medium is $30.”
Me: “It’s a small party. A party of one. I’m the only one I’m inviting so the medium should be plenty.”
Dewey’s: “Wow. That IS a small party. What time do you need it?”
Me: “Uh…my party starts at 3pm and I don’t plan on being fashionably late. Can I pick it up then?”
Dewey’s: “Absolutely. So what’s the occasion?”
Me: “I’m not sure yet. But I’ll find one, believe me.”
And I have.
Searching all international holidays, I managed to find the ONE celebration going on globally on Saturday, May 19th, the day I pick up my tray of Italian Potatoes. The holiday is called “Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day” and it hails from the country of Turkey. Much like our latest rescue dog, Mahlika.
For those too lazy to hunt the facts down on Wikipedia, Commemoration of Atatürk Youth and Sports Day celebrates the day the revered leader Atatürk landed in Samsun to start the Turkish war of Independence. Because this was the very first stage in a long battle for independence, Atatürk dedicated May 19th to the Turkish youth. A day when songs are sung, sports are played, and (at least here in America) several pounds of Italian Potatoes are eaten.
So come tomorrow, I’ll be celebrating this special occasion with my Turkish dog and a tray of happiness in my lap.
Heather thinks the whole thing is absurd but she’s not the least bit surprised. “If someone is going to order a banquet all for themselves, it’s going to be you.”
If you’d like to join me in showing solidarity with the Turks, feel free to stop by. I just hope you understand that it’s strictly a B.Y.O.I.P. affair. It’s nothing personal…I wouldn’t even share my Italian Potatoes with Atatürk himself.