I've never considered myself a picky eater. I like to think that if someone were to make me a meal, no matter what was on the plate (well, y'know, as long as it wasn't a big bloody steak or something, obviously!), I'd eat it willingly and gratefully. And I suppose that's true. But then I realized that there are certain foods that I just won't purchase or cook on my own because, well, I don't really like them! So I've decided that I'm going to try and overcome these food aversions - thus, the Crinkly Nose Chronicles were born. Why the name, you ask? Well, what facial expression does a child make when you ask her to eat a food she doesn't like? Yup - she crinkles her nose and pairs it with a disdainful look that leave no confusion as to her meaning. And the questionable food I'm dealing with today is the humble yam.
Now, the food I really have an issue with here is the sweet potato. I know that's weird, and I know that yams and sweet potatoes are not exactly the same thing, but my local grocery store had yams on sale last week - with no sweet potatoes in sight - so I decided to just pretend that once I learn to like yams, sweet potatoes will naturally follow.
I think my dislike of sweet potatoes stems from childhood. I've always had an issue with tastes - I don't like my dinner to taste sweet, and as I've mentioned before, I am not a huge fan of the savory breakfast. So, while regular ol' potatoes are just fine with me, the sweet ones have always tripped me up. As a kid, I'd watch the rest of my family enjoying baked sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar and wistfully wish I could learn to like them, but I just couldn't. Not only did their taste not fit with my conceptions of what dinner should entail, but their general flavor, quite honestly, just did not do it for me. I also have issues with texture - I hated yogurt as a kid and bananas still make me gag - and the texture of sweet potatoes was always slightly off-putting to me. As I've gotten older, I've grown more tolerant; if yams or sweet potatoes are part of a side dish at Thanksgiving or Christmas, I'll force down a small helping. But buying them and cooking them of my own volition? Not on your life!
...until last week, that is. I came home from the grocery store with two big ol' yams last Monday, and decided that the best way to trick my taste buds into enjoying them was to make baked yam fries - and yes, that's probably the same approach I'd take with a child, hehe! In search of some appropriate seasoning, the very first result from Googling "sweet potato fries" led me here. Hmm - her husband hates sweet potatoes but loved these fries?! Sounds good to me! So I chopped up my yam into some strangely shaped pieces, mixed up some olive oil (way less than the 1/4 cup in the recipe, goodness!) with some paprika and cinnamon (a spice mixture that sounded just crazy enough to work) and popped 'em in the oven.
Um, consider me chastened! These fries were delicious! I liked the ones where the skin had gone all crispy, but I was even able to eat the ones with mooshy insides without having texture OR flavor issues! In fact, I actually enjoyed the yammish flavor. I liked these fries so much that I made them again last night when I wasn't particularly hungry for a big dinner.
As you can see, I had the fries with some asparagus I needed to use up. The asparagus looks really shiny, but it's just flavored with a little Earth Balance and some squeezes of fresh lemon juice. Yum all around.
I've made progress, I think, in my journey towards becoming a yam/sweet potato fan. But I still have a ways to go. I've got to graduate to actual sweet potatoes, and I need to stop eating my yams as fries (or do I?) and try another way of eating them. In fact, I bought two more yams at the store today, and I promise that the next time I see a sweet potato, I will purchase it and try to enjoy it!
So - what's YOUR favorite way of eating yams/sweet potatoes?
1 hour ago