Traveling through the South…Third stop…The missing Mashed potato

Dinner or Supper maybe lunch or dinner for you, but whatever the afternoon and evening meal is called in you region, in my neck of the woods it constitutes a meat, starch and veg.  The most common starch I remember was the potato.  That beautiful tuber found here in the new world 1536 and arrived in Spain in 1539.  And by the early 17th century it was being used in the culinary arts all over Europe.  There is one problem when researching the earliest of receipts, the word “potato” was used for both the sweet potato and the white starchy variety.  I have always wondered if it is was considered so because other vegetables are found in a variety of colours, that it was assumed they were both potatoes and therefore called so.  Time and science put us straight that they are not the same plant.  That being the fact, our family has a penchant for the white potato in its many forms but mashed would be the preference, at least I thought so.

Upon reaching our third destination, we were excited to be staying in one place for a while and being with family.  Family has always been synonymous with mounds of food to choose from at each meal.  And this branch of the family was no different.  However, our first evening meal, Supper, was lighter and constituted ham, salad and mashed sweet potato and anything else left from Dinner.  I was given the honor of making the mashed sweet potatoes.  We used canned yams.  I know, I know, a yam is not a sweet potato.  In reality, you are correct but in America the sweet potato is at times called yams due to the fact when slaves came here from Africa and encountered the sweet potato, they found it similar to the yam they have in Africa.  From that time on the name Yam has been interchanged with sweet potato.  For our dish we used Bruce’s Yams.  Their web site says that the yam is a hybrid of the sweet potato.  Either way, I made the dish.

I took the can of Yams and mashed it with a brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.  I wish I could give you portions but I didn’t measure a thing out.  I then mashed in some butter, no more than 2 Tablespoons.  We then cooked it in the oven for 1/2 hour.  It came out fine and everyone liked it, even my son who hasn’t had sweet potatoes because it usually is served with marshmallows.  Anyway, secretly that night, he asked me “where were the potatoes”, I had to admit I didn’t know but that maybe it was the way this part of the family eats.  Then it started to become a joke.

Everywhere we went, there were no mashed potatoes as a side dish, mashed sweet potatoes but no regular.  There was baked potato, and fries but the ever elusive mashed potato was nowhere to be found.  I am at a loss.  I would have thought they could be found all over this country as a side dish on any menu but down in the South, in the restaurants we went, it was not offered.  Now the only exception to this was the buffet.  There it was in all its glory but on the menu at these buffets it still was not listed.  I am wondering if it is a given and they felt they do not need to list it or if the South now prefers the sweet potato.  Maybe the South is becoming more health conscience since the sweet potato is lower on calories and higher in nutrition.  Maybe, I was wrong and mashed potatoes were never big in the Sounth in the first place.  I may never know.  But there is one thing I found down South, that is not found up North as often and that is grits!  So, on to the next stop.

Published in: on September 9, 2009 at 5:22 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Get to the grits. I love them!!!!!

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