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The Reader's View
Our incandescent bulbs
Special to The Times
Today: the potato beaters
Allow me to join editorial columnist Kate Riley in getting worked up about the onion ["Any way you slice it, this legislation has a peel," Times editorial column, Feb. 20]. My mother-in-law grew up growing them. As far as I know, the onion helped put Washington on the national map. I haven't heard of any such claim for the potato.
The onion represents the triumph of immigrants — both to the U.S. and to Washington. This also gives a chance to acknowledge the pluck and courage, and selflessness and workaday patriotism, of immigrants, who in those days saw themselves as Americans and gave of themselves for their new country while retaining strong ethnic pride, rather than the separatist disdain promoted today by some who claim to speak for immigrants.
The onion farmers were usually first-generation, and probably never numbered more than 100 families, at most a small percent of the city of Walla Walla's population. Yet this onion is probably Walla Walla's biggest longstanding claim to fame outside of Washington, and the onion is probably Washington's second claim to national agricultural fame after the apple.
Which leads back to the first point. If the potatoes were brought to prominence by first-generation immigrants, I'll grant credit, but again I haven't heard that claimed.
There is a lot more culture and social significance connected to the Walla Walla than to the potato, which argues for its being selected as the state vegetable. Even trying to avoid rubbing in the potato's inherent lack of gustatory cachet, the Washington potato is not revered or distinguishable over other potatoes the way the Walla Walla is over other onions.
K-Y Su lives in Kirkland.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company