Keeping it sweet

A powerful American force is on the verge of invading Britain – and the country is welcoming it with open arms. According to a recent report, sales of the sweet potato have apparently risen by 50% over the last two years. Admittedly, that could just be that the number sold has risen from four to six, but it still seems to be enough for Marks & Spencer to announce that they’re going to sell the first mass-produced British sweet potato in response to consumer demand.

This Brit Out Of Water has never quite understood sweet potatoes. I mean, I know they’re probably a superfood and packed full of the kind of nutrients you can only otherwise get by eating your own body weight in squirrel droppings. And to be honest, they’re not altogether unpleasant in taste. But when it comes down to it, when you’ve got a choice between a potato that’s sweet and a potato that’s, well, ‘a potato’, there can surely be only one choice? Can anything really beat the taste of a proper spud? Not in my book.

While Americans have a ‘healthy’ commitment to the potato, their passion really begins and ends at the French fry and a regular dollop of mash (sausages optional, for some reason). Since moving to New York, I’ve been forced to engage in a prolonged re-education programme with the Brit Out Of Water household, to encourage ever greater use of the potato. The campaign is slowly showing signs of success, with the willing adoption of the baked potato topped with baked beans and cheese being a particular triumph.

But I’m still holding out against the sweet potato. Sure, I’ll eat one occasionally, but I don’t think I could ever have the same passion for it that Americans clearly have. And don’t even get me started on a sweet potato topped with marshmallows. Clearly that has no place on any dinner table, defying culinary best practice rules passed down from generation to generation. As my sister – a vegetable hater of some repute – said yesterday when told of the sweet potato/marshmallow combination, “why don’t they just go the whole hog and melt Opal Fruits* on them instead?”

The chocolate covered parsnip can only be a matter of years away.

* That’s Starburst, dear American reader. The British have been forced to use the Starburst name since 1998, when Opal Fruits were renamed “to standardisze the product in a globaliszed marketplace”. Thankfully most Brits refuse to give in gently to such corporate changes…

6 thoughts on “Keeping it sweet

  1. Amanda

    Ah – remember the days when baked potato with beans and cheese was a luxury Saturday lunchtime treat? Made a change from the regular diet of baked potato with cheese at least!
    Sweet potatoes are gradually infiltrating over here, primarily in my experience from being easy baby food, and migrating upwards through to the parents…no marshmallows though!

  2. Melanie Seasons

    Sweet potatoes are great; sweet potato fries, in particular. Better yet, sweet potato fries with an aioli dipping sauce. Mmmm!

    For the record, I also think marshmallow on mashed sweet potatoes is gross too.

  3. Dylan

    Those were the days, Amanda! I’m sure we thought we were very sophisticated as well, from what I remember?! Although we always had to stick with the dodgy stand on the market, rather than make a pilgrimage to Tatties!

    And I KNEW this post wouldn’t go down well with my dear American readers! All I can say in my defence is that I would always always rather eat sweet potato than be forced into sampling pumpkin (particularly in its pie form – there can’t be any worse texture on this fair earth than that of pumpkin pie)…

  4. Peter

    Oh, Dylan. You wound every true Yankee with your slur on the glorious pumpkin! What would any American feast be without pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. After all, we’ve gotta do something with those 4 ton monsters that didn’t win first prize at the state fair, now don’t we?

  5. jAMiE

    Mmmmm, i am Canadian but i love pumpkin pie…pumpkin bread sounds sort of interesting, i wonder if it is on par with zucchini bread?

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