The Garlic Mashed Potatoes Epiphany

We formally introduce into evidence a bag of potatoes, butter, garlic and cheese in the case, ‘can my friend really cook?’

It’s the damnedest thing, my friend can cook. I am not saying that it is a skill that only she has in the world, I am just saying that because she is my friend, I find it hard to believe that she can cook. We can talk about a myriad of topics, and we more or less see eye to eye on most things but never has the subject of cooking ever come up. We don’t sit around talking about the advantages of using avocado instead of butter while baking. I didn’t even know she could bake! I have known her for 10 years, and I never once thought her cooking could rival Barefoot Contessa’s.

At this point, I should probably point out that I am very skilled at boiling water and that is pretty much all I can cook, so forgive me if I cannot quite fathom how my friend can cook. Where, how, and when did she learn to do this? I was under the impression that birds of a feather flock together. Let’s be clear, I am not talking about ‘kawaida’ cooking. These are not ugali and sukuma meals we are talking about; she cooks things I have never heard of like Mongolian beef and balsamic honey chicken. You would think that honey and chicken don’t go together. Wouldn’t you? I mean you do not pick up a jar of honey while shopping and go, ‘hey, this will go well with my chicken tonight.’ However, I have been assured by my meat loving friends that the dish is delicious.


It is perplexing when you convince yourself that you know someone and then they show up on your doorstep with a chocolate cake that they claim to have baked themselves. For the purposes of this story, it was then (when she showed up with the cake, a chocolate one no less) that I discovered she could cook and bake. Of course being the skeptic that I am, I refused to believe her and demanded that she prove herself using the ingredients in my kitchen and nothing more. In that moment, I thought I had won because there wasn’t much by way of ingredients in my house unless you consider potatoes, garlic, cheese, and butter enough ingredients to create a meal. Apparently, they are. If she had not shown up and accepted my challenge, the potatoes and garlic would have died a rotten death.

Boil potatoes

While she peeled and chopped the potatoes, I did the only thing I am good at; I boiled the water. It turned out quite well if I say so myself. When my work had come to an end, she added the potatoes to the boiling water. While we waited for the potatoes, she chopped the garlic while I stared at the chocolate cake and hoped it would give me the secret to its creation. Once the potatoes were ready, she drained the water from the sufuria, added the chopped garlic, butter, cheese, salt, and mixed them together.


What she served was garlic mashed potatoes, and it turned out to be the best version of mashed potatoes I have ever eaten. She had won! She had proved with four measly ingredients that she could cook. The great news is that her love for cooking has not come between us. She is a great cook, and I can eat anything as long as it is vegetarian. I dare say there hasn’t been a better pairing since wine and cheese. I now have a permanent seat at her kitchen table whenever she is trying out a new recipe. I have gone as far as calling this hobby we have developed, ‘the adventures of the cook and her diner’. Well, we are still working on that particular title.


Nzula is a PR Consultant, Freelance Writer and Editor. She is also a pop culture and entertainment enthusiast whose interest in movies, music and TV is unrivalled, or so she says. :-)