Friday, November 5, 2010
Sweet Potatoes are Taking Over My Garden and My Thoughts--'Remember, Remember the Fifth of November'
When I woke up this morning, I fully intended to write a post strictly about my sweet taters, concentrating on information about their nutritional value--they're packed with beta-carotene and potassium for starters--and maybe throw in a few ideas for preparation. Thanksgiving is on its way after all, and how dull would it be without a sweet potato casserole or mashed sweet taters to add some inexpensive color, flavor, and much-needed fiber to the traditional, weighs-heavy-on-the-stomach-and-budget feast? There would be yammering like nothing you've ever heard if I left these beauties off the menu. Or at least there should be.
Thank goodness for things that don't change, like sweet potatoes, among other things. According to this site that touts healthy foods, they've been cultivated and consumed since prehistoric times. They were introduced to North America, the West Indies, and eventually Europe by those forward-thinking Spaniards who discovered them on their gold-seeking forays into Peru and Ecuador. The Spaniards didn't like them much at first, but other Europeans soon found good uses for them. It seems that some health practitioners decided that they were aphrodisiac, and word got around quickly, as it usually does where sex is concerned. It must have been common knowledge by William Shakespeare's time. Some of his contemporaries called it the "venereous root." Shakespeare even gave the taters some notice, complete with severe-weather idioms. What better way to emphasize the climacteric plight of middle-aged men and women and their often tempestuous rage against age--and each other--in his comedic play The Merry Wives of Windsor?(Shakespeare was a player, all right--with words, of course):
Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of "Greensleeves," hail kissing-comfits, and snow eringoes... (Falstaff in a nighttime tryst with a married woman who plays a trick on him, Act 5, Scene 5, lines 18-20.)