FOOD MEMORY 6
Fooddoes more than serve the purpose of sustenance. Many times we tend tocook in order to celebrate, to express our passion, for comfort, andimpress other among other reasons. This continued practice creates afood memory in one’s life, some good, bad, ugly or even memorable.From a personal experience, I developed a deep fondness of holidaysfrom my childhood because they often remind me of the sweet aroma ofmy best food and the cherished times I spent with my family. The mixof holiday, family and food has been intense for me, as that is whenI learnt my grandma’s recipes, solidified by memories ofconversation, laughter and fun. In this paper I will trace back myteachable moment, back when I was 10 years, when my grandma taught mehow to prepare.
Everyonehas a food memory, some good and some bad. My best and most vividfood memories involve candied sweet potatoes. The taste and smell ofcandied sweet potatoes is extraordinarily evocative, as it bring backmemories, not just for eating, but also for holidays and the settingwhere I first learnt to make a variety of dishes back when I was 10years. My grandmother’s cooking skills stirred an indelible passionfor sweet potatoes in my life since my childhood. This skilled womanhas always had a passion for cooking, and has often referred to herkitchen as a place where memories are made. This is indeed true as itis in that very kitchen that she taught me to prepare mashed,stuffed, baked, deep-fried, candied, fruited and grilled sweetpotatoes. My fondest memory was the first time my grandma taught meto prepare candied potatoes after my family visited her forThanksgiving.
Sweetpotato is a versatile dish and can be prepared in a variety of ways(Woolfe, 2005). In the United States, sweet potato is a required dishat thanks giving, although brown sugar, nutmeg, and bourbon are addedto make it tasty. In other instances, the mashed, fresh root can beadded to bread dough or puree into a nutritious baby food. Accordingto Lang (2001) Indonesians add spices to the puree, and market thepungent product as ketchup. Lang adds that argentina’s nationaldesert, “dulcede batata”, isa sweet potato puree boiled down with an equal weight of sugar and abit of vanilla. Sweet potatoes are also a common snack in China. InChina, the world’s largest sweet potato producer, people consumethe sweet potato when fresh following a harvest, while others steamor roast the sweet potatoes. They find it quite satisfying on a coldday. Others consider it as an appetizer.
Sweetpotatoes, a dish that came originally from the rural south, isprepared by boiling, draining and mashing. My personal favorite, andprobably the most common at Thanksgiving, is candied sweet potato,which also refers to sweet potatoes covered in caramelized sugar.From my grandma’s cooking lessons, I learnt that there is a rightway of preparing candied sweet potatoes and a wrong way too. Thefirst rule I learnt is that marshmallow should not be included. Afterconducting a personal research, I discovered that most people whodislike sweet potatoes were turned off by marshmallows as children.However, they should know that this food is too good to be on a youngperson’s ‘yuck’ list.
Themain ingredient required when making a candied sweet potato include 6medium size sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, and 1 cupbrown sugar. To begin preparing candied sweet potatoes, wash them,then place the sweet potatoes in a boiling point with enough water tocover. Covered with about an inch of cold water, boil the potatoesfor about 25 to 30min. afterwards, drain the sweet potatoes, set themon cold water to cool off, or place them aside until they are coolenough to handle them. Once cool, peel off the skin and slice intosemi-thick slices. In a large oven-proof pan, place one layer of thesweet potato slices and sprinkle brown sugar. Melt butter in amicrowave, and then pour a little over the potato slices and sugar.Continue layering on top with sugar and butter until all potatoes areused. Cover and bake the sugar and buttered slices of sweet potatoesuntil well glazed and very soft. After 45min the meal is ready toserve.
Iconsider sweet potato as a comfort food as it often reminds me offamily, and passion that my grandma passed freely to me. In fact,sweet potatoes have become a family favorite dish, which does notmiss on the table during any occasion. With great pride and pleasure,i have been teaching my friends to make the different types of sweetpotatoes and shared this delicious dish with a majority of them.Surprisingly, I have received a lot of positive feedback concerningthe dish, with a greater number of people expressing their intereston learning to prepare candied, mashed, and baked sweet potatoes. Onthe other hand, others have successfully learnt from me to make thedish, eat it as dessert, a vegetable, steamed beef, or cook it withrice. As my grandma emphasizes, preparing a good dish requires theright ingredients, and being keen on the timing.
Therehave been perceptions associated with sweet potatoes as food for thepoor. However, Thompson (2001) refers to sweet potato as one of theworld’s most unique gift from nature due to its health benefits.This power vegetable contains high calories than the white potatoesand comes packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Although sweetpotatoes contain a small amount of protein, their biological valuehas been well established. Thompson adds that it is an important dishfor reducing incidences of heart attacks and preventing cancer. Thishas been attributed to the nutrients contained in the potato.Additionally, it does not contain fat and, thus, makes an excellentsource of complex carbohydrates. As a result, various researchstudies have sweet potato as the number one healthiest vegetable.Deliciously versatile and nutritious, the sweet potato has become thestar vegetable for holiday dinner, tasty addition to breakfast orlunch, and a sweet late night snack.
Inconclusion, sweet potato is an important staple food especially inareas of subsistence farming. However, some regions use sweetpotatoes as animal feed, and for industrial starch extraction andfermentation, and for various processed products. Studies suggestthat the use of sweet potatoes for human continues to decline,whereas the use as animal and raw material for manufactured ofindustrial products has increased. It is evident that the lowcultural status associated with sweet potato, and limited knowledgeof its nutritional value has been the principal factors hindering itsconsumption. Once this is realized, people will significantly reducethe resources spent on health care, and well as, become healthy.
Lang,J. (2001). Notesof a Potato Watcher. NY:International Potato Center
Thompson,V. (2001). Passthe sweet potatoes, Please! Berkeley: iUniverse
Woolfe,J.A. (2005). Sweet Potatoes: An Untapped Food Resource. Mason,OH: Camridge University Press