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Personally, I think it is perverse that so many diners in restaurants are now “doing” their food.


English: A small plate with a serving of mashe...

English: A small plate with a serving of mashed potatoes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Now, this phraseology may not bother you in the least. Actually, I’m fairly sure you don’t give it a second thought. I, on the other hand, am driven around the bend whenever I hear someone say to a server “I think I’ll do the (fill in any dish you care to).” It chafes my brain while setting off in my skull one of those Doppler Effect police sirens you hear in every French noir gangster film. I do not like it, I do not approve of it, and I do take umbrage. Moreover, I think it is a fine how do you do. Call me a prude; I will not do my food. (Is this a t-shirt?) The image conjured up in my admittedly elevated imagination by the phrase “I think I’ll do the mashed potatoes,” unless one is stepping out onto a dance floor, is not, in my head anyway, a pretty one. I admit it, and I am sorry. But, I can’t help it.


Does this make me a nit-picker? Am I out of line here? Am I one toke over the line in this case? I don’t know – I do know that one does repair work on a car. One does one’s nails. One may do a crossword puzzle. We all do the dishes. None of these activities that we do of a normal day creates the same kind of ghastly images in my mind as the aforementioned doing “the mashed potatoes” because unlike doing any kind of potatoes, be they, boiled, baked, French fried, scalloped, or mashed, these other things are things that we all routinely do. However, as any child of the sixties, or any child of any of the subsequent decades knows, one does not do food. No! Non! Niente!


One can, however – if one gets lucky – do somebody. On the other hand – or any other body part you may choose – if one gets very lucky and is very adventurous, and the party is really as they say, mad good – one can do, or get done, by two or three bodies. However, I am almost certain that the great cocksman Giacomo Girolamo Casanova himself, even in his randiest state, could not bring himself to do the mashed potatoes, even if what was set before him was the most voluptuous plate of velvety, creamy, steaming hot, mashed potatoes ever to appear before his jaded eyes. Even if he were crazy drunk out of his– well, maybe I’m not going to go that far…you just never can tell with a fellow like Casanova. Still, I cannot, or do not, wish to picture him sticking his junk into a steaming pile of mash.


I myself, no Casanova by any stretch, but in my time no slouch in affaires d’amour either, could never bring myself to deflower a cantaloupe, much less entertain the idea of running my own junk through a dish of hot mashed potatoes. Non, mes amis…jamais. Ixnay, evernay. Forgive me Mississippi and Alabama et al., but it just seems so…backwoods-ish.


So, okay, but…what ever happened to “I’ll have the mashed potatoes” anyway? And, when did it happen? I can understand when a cook in the kitchen says I’ll do the mashed potatoes, the word “do” being used as an active verb, in this instance the act of actually standing over the stove, potato masher in hand, and making the mashed potatoes. And, where was I when people ordering in restaurants, or shopping at the meat counter in the market, started to do their food? i.e.; “I’ll do a pound of the liver.” Have I missed some sort of new movement here? Is this because of the fear of STD’s? Is it because it’s just a whole lot more safe to do it with a pumpkin squash – and maybe even less messy in the long run? Or, are people just a whole lot more adventurous than I, even in my wildest moments, ever was? Every time I hear someone say something to the effect of, “let’s see…I’ll do the avocado, then I’ll do a cup of the chicken soup, and for the main…hmm…I think I’ll do the meat loaf,” Really? That’s an awful lot of doing guy. You could get a hernia from all that doing. Also, I can’t help but wonder how hot that soup could be anyway? An avocado? Uh…I don’t know.


I am here to tell you that no attributes my server can breathlessly ascribe to the poached wild Wahoo I’m considering ordering could make me want to do this fish, thank you.  Not “fresh,” not “beautiful,” not “sumptuous.” Not even “a seductively delicious game fish, boat dressed, and slowly poached in a glorious mélange of mirepoix, leeks, and parsley, with just a soupcon of fennel, slowly sweated in butter flown in this morning from Bordier’s La Maison du Beurre in St. Malo on the Brittany coast. Then gently enveloped in a barely shimmering court bouillon made with a 2007 Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc – which by the way has gorgeous legs – all ultimately brought to a perfect climax in a slowly building symphonic crescendo by chef,” could make me want to do this fish…not even all that. I do not care how “game” it may be, or how “wild,” or if it actually yells “WAHOO!” in the throes, or if it were “dressed” it in a garter-belt. As our friends the Brits say, it’s just not on.


In the online free dictionary, the word “do” as in “let’s do lunch” is the eightieth (!) listed usage of “do.” I would like to know how, in the name of Ralph Kramden’s Chef-O’-Da-Future, did it move up to a position of such common usage? Did it arise out of the vernacular of “do coke?” Do business? Do the monkey time in your prime? Be warned; whatever answer you may provide to this question will not ameliorate the feeling that arises in me upon hearing someone talking about doing some item of food. In my mind I get a mental picture that is, to me anyway, very funny, and several steps below bestiality. Also; I can’t help but associate the aforementioned phrase “let’s do lunch” with some glib, slick talking, polka-dot suspenders-wearing big time hedge fund manager on Wall Street. He, or she, wearing a fifteen thousand dollar Bijan suit, diamond Cartier cufflinks, and alligator shoes, whispering obscene dollar amounts into his/her cell phone, feet in said alligator shoes up on his/her huge desk, and/or his/her con artist counterpart in Hollywood. Either of which automatically engenders in me great churning waves of nausea.


So you intrepid folks out there who like to live on the edge can, and by all means certainly should, continue to do all the hanger steaks, cheeseburgers, and bagels, lox, and cream cheese you like. Or, since you are “doing” all your food, may we consider it juuuuust a little more than like? Eh? Perhaps some new kind of man – boiled potato love? And of course, if you’re mindful of the need for safe sex you can always do a nice plain organic non-fat yogurt – although a lot of them are Greek-style. Me? I’ll just go on my merry way far behind the times merely having my ordinary, unexciting but tasty, mashed potatoes. But, that’s just me.


© tony powers and Barking in the Dark, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to tony powers and Barking in the Dark with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


About barkinginthedark

Tony Powers is a writer/actor/musician. His full bio may be seen by clicking on the picture, and then clicking on either of the 2 boxes below it.



  1. A barista here, this drives me nuts. “I’ll do a large coffee”, etc. Not doing anything


    Posted by Barista guy | June 4, 2017, 2:39 am
  2. I do comments.


    (have missed you 🙂 You still have me smile)


    Posted by WordsFallFromMyEyes | November 27, 2013, 10:23 pm
  3. I think I see the problem here.
    Your potatoes obviously don’t have enough butter in them. That causes chafing when you rub against the lumpy bits.
    ta-da, problem solved.

    Hope you and the potatoes have a very happy thanksgiving, Tony.


    Posted by El Guapo | November 26, 2013, 7:31 am
  4. Haha, I don’t “do” food either. I don’t even “eat” mashed potato much. My food will be liquidised for me soon enough. Have you also noticed how everything is also “perfect” these days.
    “What would you like, sir? ”
    “Glass eyed whole octopus with steamed tortoise eggs.”
    Kids today are so positive. All Hail Customer Service.


    Posted by Single Malt Monkey | November 26, 2013, 5:18 am
  5. Have you seen the Roberto Benigni segment in ‘Night on Earth’? There’s a cab driver that shares your opinion…


    Posted by the urban misanthropist | November 26, 2013, 12:53 am
  6. Of course I’m WAY too cool to look at porn now, but way back in the ’80s I remember reading a Penthouse letter where a guy was cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and he looked through the oven window at the bird cooking away with all its juices flowing, and claimed that he “had to have that bird.” His guests supposedly complimented him on the great taste of the sauce.
    At least mashed potatoes would be more, shall we say, yielding, than a steak.


    Posted by trailertrashdeluxe | November 25, 2013, 4:15 pm
  7. Well…it is quite gratifying to be cited, and i thank wordpress (i guess) for bringing this to my notice. wherever this usage comes from it is quite annoying. (to me anyway) thanks so much. continue…


    Posted by barkinginthedark | February 2, 2019, 2:09 pm


  1. Pingback: “Do” (a menu item) | Not One-Off Britishisms - February 2, 2019

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