I love sweet potatoes. I eat them baked several times a week and often make a full meal out of a big fat one. Last night I thought of something as a put 2 scrubbed beauties in the oven. It occurred to me I hadn't tasted a sweet potato until after I was married.
In our family, the Depression years were complicated by my father's reluctance to work even when such a thing was possible. My mother worked at a soda fountain while I toiled in the kosher butcher shop gutting chickens. Father slept in.
Our budget was understandably tight and unfortunately, in addition, my mother was totally clueless when it came to nutrition. Our meals were very white---usually consisting of potatoes and day-old bread/pastry with fatty meat on the odd occasion. Precious little dairy and nary a veggie in sight. Even then, I knew there must be a better way to eat---and live!
When I married Ben we swore our children would have everything they needed. We produced one son and made good on our resolution. As a baby Jack loved sweet potato baby food. As he grew older I became very adventurous and cooked real, live, sweet potatoes. I thought I was very sophisticated, I can tell you! Around this time I saw a magazine article that give instructions for growing a sweet potato vine. I thought that sounded like a nifty idea and so embarked on my great horticultural experiment.
The sweet potato grew in sync with our son. We watched the vine sprout and stretch just like Jack. It grew luxuriant---twining draping over the kitchen divider. I regarded it as a prized possession and fretted whenever it was droopy or petulant and nearly burst with pride when visitors commented on its beauty.
Alas, it didn't make a successful transition to our next apartment. I went back to working full-time and deprived of accustomed affection and attention, the poor sweet potato vine just faded away. However, it will aways live in my memory as a reminder of those long-past times of innocent hope and simple pleasures. Perhaps that's why sweet potatoes taste so wonderful---even now.