The sudden change in my feelings came in from a totally unexpected source: A retirement community cafeteria. I was visiting my grandparents in their upscale Florida retirement enclave, and they took me to lunch. I braced myself for the oversalted, overcooked mediocrity I usually experienced there; it was all worth it for a pleasant afternoon with my grandparents. (Let's not talk, though, about the Thanksgiving dinner I had there one year. I never knew turkey could get so mushy.)
I was leaning over, talking to one of my grandmother's hard-of-hearing friends, and before I realized it, a server had plopped a sweet potato on my plate. It was roasted in its jacket, butter oozing out from its interior, the skin crisp and brown. I eyed it and suddenly thought it looked good.
Well, I ate that sweet potato right down to the last scrap of roasted skin, scraping the orange flesh off my plate. I don't know if it was the saltiness, or the butter, or the crispness of the skin, but I fell in love with sweet potatoes right then and there, and I didn't look back. Maybe it was a deficiency of some vital nutrient that my body suddenly craved, but I could not get enough sweet potatoes from then on out. I ate them nearly every day, roasted and baked in cream.
My only allowance for my former aversion: I never, never want to see marshmallows on sweet potatoes again. They are sweet enough as it is; I think instead they need some spice, so I heat them up with chipotle, like in this gratin.
What about you? Do you have a vegetable conversion story?
(Image: Leela Cyd Ross)