Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sweet potatoes

I was at the kindergarten yesterday and found all the kids very excited because they were getting special snacks. Sweet potatoes! I have never understood the great joy in eating sweet potatoes but there is a Japanese tradition of craving sweet potatoes. The older generation will tell you how in their day the only food that was sweet at all were sweet potatoes and how kids these days are spoiled with all the chocolate and cookies and candy they can readily get.

"In my day, all we had were sweet potatoes! And we appreciated them!"

You can buy roasted sweet potatoes in the supermarket and they make the whole store smell heavenly. And in the winter I can occasionally hear a sweet potato seller wandering around the streets in his pickup truck with a potato roaster in the back. He calls out as he goes;

"Sweet~ potatoes~! Stone roasted sweet potatoes~!"

People stop him and for a few dollars he will sell a hot roasted sweet potato wrapped in newspaper that women and girls will carry away giggling. This is supposed to be a special treat for women. Men are not as interested in sweet potatoes. I know the reasoning behind it but I have my doubts.

Japanese men are not supposed to like sweets. Eating candy and cakes etc. are supposed to be below them. Macho men are supposed to be drinkers and not have a sweet tooth like women and children. A hot sweet potato in the pocket is supposed to be a great hand warmer and the menfolk will deign to nibble on one now and then but enjoy? No that is beneath them. See. A little hard to understand.

And the giggling? Well, sweet potatoes have a lot of fiber and so they produce gas.

"Tee-hee-hee! To think these refined ladies are craving after gas producing sweet potatoes!"

Here again, I don't really understand this thinking either but it is a common joke between sweet potato eaters.

Yesterday's sweet potatoes at the kindergarten were even more special because the children had planted the potato plants in the spring and helped dig them up last week. And one of the kindergarten staff was busy yesterday roasting sweet potatoes in a barrel in the kindergarten yard.

So all the children were very excited to get a hot slice of sweet potato and many were coming back for seconds and thirds.

I was given a great big sweet potato too and it was delicious! Tee-hee-hee!

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