Sunday, June 29, 2008

So, about that sweet potato pie. B and I went down to the KC River Market last weekend to pick out some produce, and wound up with a half-peck of sweet potatoes. I swear, some of them were GINORMOUS. Literally the size of a football. The family selling them was Amish, so maybe they were praying over them, I don't know--but if it hadn't been for the little bonnets and Laura-Ashley print dresses, I definitely would have suspected growth hormone or genetic engineering involvement. Sweet potato pie is just one of those things a Southern girl should know how to make, like grits (for purposes of this post, I'm southern; my mother has family liberally sprinkled through Arkansas and Mississippi).

Which brings us to an interesting question: depending on the day of the week, or whom you ask, Missouri can be either a southern state or a Midwestern one. In favor of the "Midwestern" designation we have 'heartland values', proximity to Kansas and Nebraska, a very high casserole-per-capita rating, Methodists and Lutherans, and amber waves of grain. However, in the Southern category we have little kids out in the sticks who call everyone over the age of twelve "ma'am" and "sir," (which I have to admit cracks me up), the fact that Missouri was a slave state (remember? That was the Missouri Compromise, not the fact that half the state says "miss-oo-REE" and half says "miss-ou-RAH." I am staunchly in favor of the first pronunciation, not least because there is not an "a" anywhere in the damn word.), and the fact that there are portions of the state where it would not behoove you to be obviously black, or Jewish, or queer, or of foreign extraction. Really, confederate flags are SOO sixties. EIGHTEENsixties. And I don't want to hear about "Southern pride" or "It's about historical and regional pride, not oppression." Kids, you can celebrate aspects of your country/region that you love without resorting to emblems of past injustices. For instance (and I know some people are going to be pissed that I even brought this up, but somehow I think I'll live with that) the Germans, as a people, don't use the swastika much anymore. Yes, it was an ancient Sanskrit good-luck charm; yes, it symbolizes a time when Germany was at the height of its international military and domestic power. But it also symbolizes a lot of things whose horribleness and evil even my admittedly bloated vocabulary lacks the capacity to describe, and which I will therefore only say was very, very bad shit indeed (kind of like, say, OWNING people, and treating them as property in the basest and most inhuman of ways...I'll only say that while people bought male slaves to do hard manual labor, female slaves were usually conscripted for labor of another sort...because, hey, if you own a woman and you get her pregnant, you own the kid too! It's like a two-fer. Hell, wait another nine months and force her to have another! If this is in any way new or shocking information for you, look up Hortense J. Spillers or bell hooks.) If they were even clever about it...I mean, a bumper sticker that said "Jefferson Davis is my President" would be kind of funny. But no, it's rarely that subtle. Maybe that's good; maybe that sort of "bigot here: take it or leave it" behavior is better than the slinky, no-I'm-not-really-prejudiced prejudice you get in more liberal climes (I'm looking at you, white friend who only says "N*gger" when she gets drunk). I think the problem may be that while there's a wealth of passionate feeling, a lot of these folks who go on about *Southern glory* are much more intimately acquainted with Jack Daniels than Jefferson Davis, and in fact would not know the latter if he threatened them with acts of secession (which is what he would do, those of you who didn't pay attention in history class, because he was the de facto president of the Confederate States of America).

But yes. Sweet potato pie. The recipe in the New Joy of Cooking, with a little less evaporated milk than indicated because milk products in general freak me out (did you know that, evolutionarily and biologically, milk glands are modified sweat glands? Yum!). It turned out well; everyone said it was to die for *blush*, and I did manage to hold off my roommates (with threats and brandished spatulas) long enough to actually get it to the dinner party. I took along some of the pralines, too, and they were a BIG hit. *Yay Scalpel's recipe!*

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