Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tuber with the evil eye

The first thing one sees when entering my local grocery store is the produce – fruits and vegetables of every kind.

Biomass for the masses -- these are not just things to be eaten. They are things to behold.

The leafy greens pose in the spritz. The peppers primp in green, crimson and gold. The tomatoes, the avocados, even the rutabagas, all shine under artisan lights.

Whoever designed my grocery store knew what he or she was doing with this, a literal feast for the eyes.

And then . . .

This week something blocks my path on the Road to Cornucopia.

That would be a bin of sweet potatoes.

Have you ever looked closely at a pile of sweet potatoes? More appropriately, have you ever felt sweet potatoes looking at you?

A sweet potato in a bin is pure confrontation. Either it points a ruddy finger at you in accusation, or it turns a bare rump at you.

Its eyes are angular and beady, right out of "Spy vs. Spy" comics.

Who would trust a sweet potato with a nation's holiday? Apparently many, despite my best efforts.

For many years, each Thanksgiving I have sought to inform readers that sweet potatoes shouldn't be treated as food. You can do all sorts of things with them, but you can't eat them.

I base this assertion on exhaustive research. I ate sweet potatoes once. Once.

Yes, that one time was 50-plus years ago. It feels like 50 minutes.

It's amazing how tastes can linger. I haven't had turnips since the Gerald Ford presidency. I still stumble over the thought.

Liver is very, very bad. Brussels sprouts taste like a mistake. But I didn't need to tell you that.

Apparently I need to tell many of you every year that you have seriously mischaracterized the sweet potato as edible.

This is not a matter of opinion. This is fact. My tongue affirms it.

What further affirms it is the attempts to mask the essence of sweet potato meat with a lot of unsuspecting marshmallows.

Every year I encounter scandalous efforts to foist sweet potatoes onto innocent palates. Recently Parade magazine feted the versatile cranberry, something I can salute. Then it rained on its parade with a recipe for "Cranberry, pecan and goat cheese sweet potato bites."

By the way, I ate goat cheese once. Once.

As said earlier, and as pointed out many times in my decades-long effort to inform: Sweet potatoes have many legitimate purposes – to be made into ethanol and plastic; to be made into ink, dyes and shoe polish, and so much more.

George Washington Carver demonstrated long ago that we need not eat sweet potatoes for them to be productive members of society.

So in that great man's honor this holiday season:

When sweet potatoes look your way, look away.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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