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Food for Thought: Sweet Potatoes

Joined: 8/31/2014
Posts: 3

As Thanksgiving is near, I picture a table with abundance of food, but for me, sweet potatoes have the sweetest taste of nostalgia. Rice had been the most basic part of all Japanese meals; however with the surrender of WWII rice was hard to come by. Hence, we compromised by eating sweet potatoes in lieu of rice. We ate lots of potatoes. Those days are bitter and sweet with post war memories.

On Sunday mornings we slept a little later than on school days. “Ba-Chan, Ohayo” (Good Morning, Grandma) I called to my grandmother as I got out of bed. She was poking through the potatoes in the steaming pot with long chopsticks. She turned to me, “Oh, Ohayo.” Looking at me she said “They are done now but let them settle for a while.” “Are you going to the village today?” I asked. She responded “Since it is a nice day, I will go and see if I would luck out with some rice.”

From a drawer she brought out her Kimono. This was her favorite at one time but she no longer had any occasions to wear it. This Kimono was now going to be traded for food. She folded the Kimono, wrapped it in newspapers, and then slipped it into the bag.

“Have a safe trip, Grandma” “O.K., take care of your brother. Share the sweet potatoes--they should be good.” She left for the ferry dock.

Later, I was wondering if Grandma had any luck at some farmer’s house where the lady liked Grandma’s Kimono and offered a good amount of rice for exchange. I knew Grandma would be coming back with the ferry at 5:15, so I walked over to the dock.

Someone said that the ferry was raided. Because of the Food Rations, it was illegal to go to the farmer’s home directly to deal with produce, especially when it came to rice. I saw the people with bags and bundles lined up beside the dock by order of police. Grandma was among them and we made eye contact. Her worrisome face said “I cannot be here; I must get back to my kids.”

When the guard walked away for a moment, a couple of people made a run for it. Spectators cheered, the guard saw them but did not chase them. After all, they were not serious criminals but just hungry people like everybody else. Again, a couple of people made the attempt but they were pulled back by the guard. Spectators were having fun.

Grandma gave me a look and made a run; I grabbed one of her bundles to help. She succeeded in her escape. We looked at each other with glee. That day, she brought home a bag of rice and a bag of sweet potatoes.

I told Grandma that the sweet potatoes she had steamed in the morning were very good. “Well,” she said, “now we have more from that same house!”

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Comment by warren

Joined: 6/22/2011
Posts: 293
What good and bad memories you must have! Arigato.
Posted: Sunday, November 23, 2014 7:57:18 AM
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