I pledge eternal allegiance to the humble baked potato, with cheese, beans or guacamole - Gaby Soutar

Jacket Baked potato with tomato beans, cheddar cheese. Pic: AdobeJacket Baked potato with tomato beans, cheddar cheese. Pic: Adobe
Jacket Baked potato with tomato beans, cheddar cheese. Pic: Adobe
It’s the only meal for me

If anyone ever asked me what my last supper would be, I’d probably lie and say something fancy, like fillet steak or caviar.

In reality, all I’d really want is a humble spud.

After all, my love of the baked potato never wains.

It’s reliably been my favourite dinner, lunch or snack, since I was a teenager.

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I was extremely sad when Edinburgh favourite The Baked Potato Shop on Cockburn Street closed down, after 30 years of service, earlier this year. They were the tattie maestro. Their spuds were weighty, and they’d put almost an entire block of butter on every golden and crispy-skinned offering.

I didn’t go in as often as I’d want to, because there was only one wee communal table.

You’d have to sit with strangers, as garlic butter dribbled down your chin, or perch outside on their narrow windowsill.

When The Scotsman’s offices were on Holyrood Road, my colleague and I would sometimes get their tatties for lunch. The urgent dash back to the office, down the Royal Mile, as you felt the heat drain from the precious parcel, made me feel like I was rushing an organ to its transplant patient.

My order from that venue was always a potato with cottage cheese and fruity coleslaw. The red onion ingredient always gave me halitosis for the rest of the afternoon. Still, I refused to deviate. I’m sorry to all the co-workers that I breathed on during those years.

At home, I’m equally boring and retro with my unsophisticated fillings.

My favourites, in order of preference, are prawn or tuna mayo, cottage cheese, baked beans, coronation chicken, guacamole and cheddar. Two types of filling are preferable - one in each half, to keep things interesting. After I’ve dispatched its salty mashed Maris Piper innards, I like to add a dash of Worcestershire Sauce to the skins, and maybe a bit more butter.

It seems that no other comfort food will touch the hunger that consumes me in the winter months.

My usual lunchtime soup and sandwich are all but useless.

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Sometimes I’m so starving by noon that I’m too impatient to bake them in the oven for a whole hour. Instead, I’ll cut the cooking time by nuking my potato in the microwave first, for precisely 11 minutes. Only once, decades ago, did I forget to stab a hole through its middle before doing this. BOOM!

I’ll never forget the sound. What a waste, and mess.

Thankfully, the exploding potato was not my last supper. There have been plenty since, and thousands more to come, I hope.

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