NASA astronaut Mark Watney, portrayed by actor Matt Damon, grows potatoes to survive on Mars. NASA astronaut Mark Watney, portrayed by actor Matt Damon, grows potatoes to survive on Mars. NASA astronaut Mark Watney, portrayed by actor Matt Damon, grows potatoes to survive on Mars in "The Martian." (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

What can you do with 4 years' worth of potatoes?

In 'The Martian,' Matt Damon survives on a lonely diet of potatoes. Which got us thinking...

The Martian, the No. 1 movie at the box office this weekend, has sparked a lot of water cooler talk: Could a human actually survive on Mars for four years while he waits for NASA to rescue him?

Sure, you might get a little bored waiting around all that time. But inquiring minds want to know: What would you eat? If you've seen the movie, you know the answer: Potatoes. Lots and lots of potatoes.

In the film, Matt Damon portrays astronaut Mark Watney, who just happens to be a botanist. Which is fortuitous because he uses this skill set of super science to figure out a way to grow potatoes using Martian soil. Here's how Watney explains the problem:

Damon says he learned a lot about growing potatoes during the making of the film, as they actually grew the root vegetables on the Budapest soundstage where they were filming the movie. Damon, whose character enjoys dipping potatoes in sweet ketchup, recently talked with USA Today about the film's favorite food:

20th Century Fox, the studio behind the film, is actually using the potato storyline to help promote the movie. They partnered with CollectSpace.com and Mail a Spud (yes, a real company) to allow people to send a potato to a friend that comes with a stamp of Mark Watney. The movie studio has also provided step-by-step instructions for growing your own potatoes (just in case you find yourself stuck on an abandoned planet).

The movie studio is inviting fans of "The Martian" to mail a potato to a friend with Matt Damon stamps.The movie studio is inviting fans of "The Martian" to mail a potato with Matt Damon stamps to a friend. (Photo: 20th Century Fox/collectSPACE.com)

All of this potato talk made us hungry. So we stepped away from our cubicles and headed into the Israeli Kitchen, where we asked our team of chefs for their favorite potato-inspired dishes. We told them it was for research for an article, but we also asked if, you know, they could have it ready by lunchtime. Here's what they came back with ...

Golden herbed potato wedges, Miriam Kresh

Potato wedgesPotato wedges (Photo: Sarsmis/Shutterstock)

Crisp on the outside and tender inside, these potato wedges are a delicious indulgence. "If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s a potato," says Kresh. "I hear the siren call of carbohydrates, it’s always crooning: Potato … Potato.”


Garlic and herbed mashed potatoes, Jerry James Stone

garlic and herb mashed potatoesThis is the only mashed potato recipe you'll need in your collection. (Photo: Jerry James Stone)

This decadent side dish is perfect for a holiday meal, or to turn an average breakfast into something extraordinary. "I always make extra mashed potatoes so I can have it the next morning with a fried egg on top," says Stone. "If you love home fries with your eggs, give this a try. You will not be disappointed."


Potato salad with Israeli pickles, Sarah F. Berkowitz

potato salad with picklesThis potato salad gets a pick-me-up from the tangy taste of Israeli pickles. (Photo: HLPhoto/Shutterstock)

This salad gets a tangy boost with diced pickles, loads of dill and a creamy garlic and lemon dressing. "I used a mix of golden, red and purple baby potatoes for added visual appeal," says Berkowitz, "but the salad looks and tastes great with just golden or red potatoes, too."

Still hungry for more? Check out our chefs' recipes for meat-stuffed potatoes, potatoes stewed with olives, fried potato pancakes, salmon and potato casserole, cardoon and potato gratin and an omelet of nettles and potatoes.

As for Damon, all this chatter about potatoes has got him angling for something else. Asked during an interview what he would eat if he could only choose one food to eat, he went with spaghetti and meatballs. "I think I could eat a lot of that," he said with a smile.

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Related Topics: Healthy eating, Movies, Space