Sweet potato chips

By Hyacinth Miles

As a fairly hard-core sugar addict, I have always thought that sweet potatoes were the perfect food. They’re like potatoes, but, well, sweet. Plus they’re packed with vitamins. It’s like God was smiling on us the day he made sweet potatoes, perhaps trying to make amends for the creation of locusts or track housing.

November is the perfect time to celebrate sweet potatoes — and you can often get ‘em at Farmers’ Market. Their comforting flavor offsets the chill of fall, and, as Martha Stewart would point out, their orange color will help you coordinate your food with your autumn centerpieces. On the other hand you could take a page from my book and just pop one in the microwave then eat it half raw in a paper towel while standing propped against the counter next to a sink full of dirty dishes. Good stuff.

That’s the great thing about sweet potatoes, their flexibility. They are good boiled, stewed, steamed, and especially fried. Even better than sweet potato fries are sweet potato chips. If you find it disconcerting that sweet potatoes are both delicious and good for you, sweet potato fries can ease your mind by containing enough oil to power a Yugo. Luckily they are also so good you won’t care. If you have never been to Atomic Cafe, stop. Put down this paper and go order some sweet potato chips.

Are you back? Good. (Don’t think I don’t know you’re lying. I know you didn’t go anywhere. People never follow my advice. But I don’t care, because I know that if you had, you would be happier right now.)

Well, let’s pretend, for the sake of propriety, that you followed my advice and are now sitting in front of a big basket of hot crunchy and well-seasoned sweet potato chips. You look up at me from across the table and smile winningly, and say, “These are great Hyacinth, but I can’t serve potato chips for Thanksgiving.”

To you I say I understand your dilemma. It is important to maintain traditions, especially for those Holidays which have very little to recommend them apart from their traditions. I would like to present four delicious recipes based on old favorites.

You will note that this recipe is a Sweet Potato recipe and not a Yam recipe. You might ask, “What is the difference between a Sweet potato and a Yam?” Well I did a little quick research on the subject and the answer turned out to be “Almost everything.”

Yams are dry, sweet potatoes are moist. Yams are bland, sweet potatoes are sweet. Yams have rough scaly skin, Sweet potatoes have smooth this skin. I am beginning to feel a little sorry for Yams. Clearly they are the wallflower of the tuber world.

Yams are actually not native to America; it is quite possible that you have never eaten one. They are indigenous to West Africa, and the West African name “nyami” is the basis for the English name. What is called a yam in America is actually the oranger of two varieties of American Sweet Potato. Just to keep things simple, the FDA requires that all food products labeled yam also be labeled sweet potato, regardless of whether or not the item may in fact be a yam and not a sweet potato. It seems like it would save time if they just abolished that rule and instead insisted that all food be labeled properly the first time. n