I bought ’em for Thanksgiving and completely forgot to cook them. Hubbs was disappointed. Sweet potato casserole is one of his favorites. Tonight (yes, weeks late) I got them out of the pantry and baked them. I served them with butter and cinnamon, just like I was planning for Thanksgiving.
The difference? This time I was the only person at the table who had ever seen or eaten them before. That’s right. It was me, my in-laws, my brother-in-law, and sister-in-law. Of the 5 adults, I was the only one who knew what they were.
Everyone ate them. Everyone was confused by them. I showed them how to split them down the middle, slather on enough butter to clog an artery, and lightly dust with cinnamon. I showed them how to gently mash them with their fork, mixing up the butter and cinnamon as they go. They paid me tentative attention. Then they covered them in salt and politely ate them, commenting now and then about how tasty they were. Everyone was quite happy when they finished them though, and there’s no fooling me. Despite their polite compliments, I know they were happy because they didn’t have to subject themselves to these anomalies anymore.
Dinner ended with conversation about the ‘legends’ they’d heard about the existence of sweet potatoes. The fact that they don’t taste at all like potatoes. That they taste more like melons (am I the only person who finds that comparison strange?). The newness of the flavor. And the uniqueness. All that to say, thank you for the polite words. My pride isn’t hurt if you’re not a sweet potato fan. All I did was bake ’em up and offer them. I never said you had to like them. I didn’t put any work into the preparation. The funny thing is, I served meatloaf too, which I did spend time and effort preparing. And I must say, it was a pretty darn good meatloaf. Flavorful, moist, packed with sauteed onions and green peppers. Also a new entree for them. But no one really said a thing about the meatloaf. They were so confused by the anomaly of sweet potatoes that they didn’t really notice that something else graced their plates – or that they’d managed to swallow something a little more recognizable than ‘red potatoes.’ I probably could have just thrown a couple pre-packaged hamburger patties in the oven and gotten the same reaction. My inclusion of sweet potatoes in the meal was so overwhelming to them that they couldn’t focus on anything else.
My brother-in-law and sister-in-law brought some pecans to the table after the meal. Those were new too. I thought about waxing lyrical about pecan pie, spiced pecans, and sugar-coated pecans, but I was afraid their heads might explode from the sheer newness of it all. I couldn’t tell if they liked the pecans. It seemed to take them back to their home, where they had just harvested walnuts before moving here (I think that’s the type of nuts they grew…). Nostalgia set in, and I left it at that. No need to to frighten them with the odd things we Americans do with nuts.