"Seconds on potatoes!"

By John Pierre | Apr 26, 2012

Many years ago (a little over sixty of 'em), when I went to sea with the Navy, I managed to trim down to 165 pounds which, to me, was a landmark.  I had usually weighed closer to 180.

"Seconds on potatoes?"  Contrary to what the picky eaters would proclaim, the food on board ship was not even half bad.

The part that bothered me was the massive amounts of "mashed potatoes" that were being dispersed by the "mess cooks" on the chow line.

Potatoes kept very well and, as a result, we stored tons of them at the beginning of every cruise.

Unlike real eggs, which we ran out of after the first few days at sea and we were thereafter served powdered eggs, potatoes seemed to always be in ample supply.

We all (at least us enlisted swabs) sat at a large metal table with our "mess kits" and scarfed up whatever was offered.

Like all 17-18-19 year-olds we could stow away massive quantities of food 'til the cows came home.  It seemed that some of us could never get enough.

"Seconds" of anything were simply not available, except those danged potatoes.

Often, the petty officer in charge of the enlisted mess hall would announce, in a loud voice, "Seconds on potatoes!"

Music to teenage ears and numbers of them would leap to their feet and get in line for another mound to get plopped onto their "messkit" (that's a military word for a compartmentalized metal tray/plate.)

That's where I drew the line and the result was a noticeable loss of weight.

There was something good about those potatoes though.

When I was doing my "mess cooking" stint (that's like KP in the army except when assigned to "mess cooking" in the Navy it was for 90 days with many hours per day, seven days a week.

The ever present potatoes were cooked in a massive vat.  After meals, we mess cooks would plop a few pounds of butter into the cooking liquid and, voila, we had a delightful potato soup.

As an aside, it seems that every time we made port at Pearl Harbor, we took on a load of pineapples.

Sound good?  Not when you're relegated to peeling, quartering and coring by hand, which fell to me and others on occasion.

Within minutes of beginning the task, our fingers stuck together.  It was very hard to work with a razor sharp knife when your fingers are inoperative and I have a few scars to prove it.

To this day, when I hear "seconds on (insert your least desirable food here), I find I lose what remains of my appetite.

Try that Nutrisystems.

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