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"Journey into the Whirlwind"
by Eugenia Semyonovna Ginzburg

by Karin Muller

"The Sewing Circles of Herat"
by Christina Lamb

"High Fidelity"
by Nick Hornby

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sweet Potatoes

We were seated at the table having lunch, after church in the chapel at Seigakuin University in Japan. Suddenly my sister jumped up from the table and ran outside. She had heard the Sweet Potato Man outside ringing a bell. She came back in with hot sweet potatoes roasted over hot stones in a cart. Now I had never cared for sweet potatoes. But I was brought up well and someone who is brought up well, eats what is put in on the table. A little butter and salt and pepper and they were absolutely delicious! What a mouth-watering treat I have been missing all these years.

Later, they moved to a condo on the 12th floor. It is hard to catch the Sweet Potato Man when you have to go down 12 floors. But once you have eaten sweet potatoes roasted over hot stones, you must try. In 1993 my sister wrote a monograph about the Sweet Potato Man. She has given me permission to include it. She writes so well and she probably should be writing a blog on a regular basis.

From our darkened apartment, I heard the sweet potato man’s voice calling, “Sweet potatoes . . . stone-baked sweet potatoes. . .” Other times I have hurried downstairs with my money, only to have him disappear in the maze of streets around our building. But this time his truck had stopped, and I decided to try my luck again. When I reached the street I was surprised to see the sweet potato man was a foreigner like me – a young Iranian. We smiled at each other conspiratorially as we played our parts: he selling stone-baked sweet potatoes in the age-old Japanese way, and me buying them. How delicious!

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