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Inspired by Thanksgiving: Sweet potatoes and confusion

Before I became a student (well, a student again), I used to work for an American company with offices in various bits of the world. Every Thanksgiving, one of my American colleagues would bring in two pumpkin pies: one for the omnivores, and a vegan one for lucky folk like me. We'd get to talking about Thanksgiving dinners, and all the dishes that make up a traditional table.

I always assumed (never having been to a thanksgiving dinner, that is) that it would be pretty much like a glorified Christmas meal: protein of your choice, spuds, veggies, gravy. Only when she started talking me through some of the finer details of Thanksgiving side dishes, I'll admit I was confused: you put mushroom soup concentrate on your green beans? Really?

But the one thing that confused me more than any other was the bit where she explained there were sweet potatoes casserole (yep, sounds good) covered with marshmallows (wait, what?) I had to get my poor colleague to explain multiple times that this wasn't a dessert, but something you'd serve alongside all your traditional thanksgiving mains. (I also felt obliged to check with another American colleague that the first colleague was pulling my leg, and sweet potatoes and marshmallows was indeed a Thanksgiving thing. Turns out, it is).

With this week's MoFo prompt on making some Thanksgiving inspired eats, I thought I should finally break my duck on the sweet potatoes and marshmallow front.

My initial plan was to make a full Thanksgiving roast and enjoy with my beloved Mr Flicking the Vs, but life got in the way - not only are exams less than two weeks away, I picked up some paid work and then got sick. It never rains and all that.

So, with that in mind, here's what I did manage: sweet potato toasts topped with cinnamon, orange juice, and marshmallows -- a sort of cut-down tribute to the Thanksgiving staple. I had imagined soft, yielding orange toast, topped with crisp, vegan, brown tipped marshmallows.

Here's what I got:

Ok, so it looks like an industrial accident, but did it taste good? Did I finally understand why this unlikely combo makes it onto Thanksgiving tables across the land? In short, umm, no.

If I'd have got the same sweet potato and marshies mixture in a brownie, happy days. But in a roast dinner? Not so much. It's the dessert food masquerading as dinner that throws me for a loop. This thanksgiving, I may not have managed to fully get my head around the traditional side dish that has always confused me, but I did finally manage to get my jaws around it. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  1. So did you feel like you were eating dessert for dinner? I don't understand this dish either. For me, savoury really does mean it should be a lot less sweeter than cake - I feel like you could have put candles in this and made a great birthday cake but I can't imagine eating it with dinner.

  2. Love this post. I was an exchange student many years ago and studied in the States for a year. I got to stay with a fellow students family for Thanksgiving and I remember being too scared to try these!

  3. Haha, I was expecting you to be won over in the end! Nevermind. I'm equally baffled by this dish, but not bold enough to try it, unlike you!

  4. I remember having a similar reaction when I heard about this American dish. Whoever dreamed it up?! In saying that, my American grandmother (now married to my British grandfather) introduced our family to an amazing sweet potato pudding, which I had tried and enjoyed before I discovered the sweet potato / marshmallow mix - so I was probably less surprised than some. We always had that pudding for dessert though!

  5. I literally heard of this phenomenon this week! Obviously we don't celebrate thanksgiving over here so I never really had the chance to come across it, but whaaaa....? Marshmallows??

  6. I never actually tried sweet potato casserole, it wasn't part of my family's Thanksgiving meal growing up. As an adult, I've seen it on the table but never a vegan version. Love your take on it though, even if it didn't quite turn out. Was the marshmallow part that did it in? Seems like sweet potato on toast would be pretty good...


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