The thing I grew up eating, especially when my dad cooked breakfast, was plain old shredded potatoes fried up all delicious and crispy in some oil. My preferred diner back in Madison also does them correctly. Really, as long as there is enough of that crunchy-oily-crusty-Maillard-reaction flavor, I'm happy. Potato pancakes, latke, the kind of hash-brown-roundrect bricks that you get from McDonald's or Eat'n'Park or something: all pretty acceptable, still. But the one aspect of the otherwise perfect diner experience I've had repeatedly in philly and here that I always find disappointing is the potatoes. "Home fries" here means some dejected sliced mushy potatoes with an afterthought of green pepper or onion or whatever the person before you ordered.
So I was a bit sudden clarity clarence when K pointed out that obtaining shredded potatoes is actually just as easy as spending approximately $0.00 on a potato, and applying a cheese grater to it. Consequently had some very nearly Perfect Hash Browns this morning except that they were a tiny bit soggy --- further internet research by K revealed that the secret is getting all the moisture out of the potatoes beforehand.