Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sweet Potato vs Pumpkin: A Debate

I'm mixed. That's not a newsflash to most people but for some of you who might not know me, you might be surprised that I actually have blue eyed, blond haired siblings that share the same mother as me. That's really of no importance except for the fact that I have come to realize something over the past 10 years or so that has to do with pie selection at Thanksgiving. For as long as I can remember, I have split holidays between both sides of my family since my parents divorced at a very young age but both families reside in Southern California. It's a pretty sweet deal...two big meals (obviously we go to the black side later since they never eat early), two present openings at Christmas, and a chance to be around all your family that you love and care about.

One huge difference at Thanksgiving in particular, is the choice of pie at the end--namely the availability of either pumpkin or sweet potato. Growing up, I always thought I liked pumpkin. It's what I knew...I was more familiar with it...it seemed to be the Thanksgiving pie of choice for the majority of people I knew...whatever the reason, I liked pumpkin pie. But as I got older, I started giving sweet potato pie a chance and I realized something--it's soooo much better. I mean seriously, there is no comparison. And the reason that I am making a comparison between these two particular pies is because it's seems as if people always fall on one side of the fence or the other. You may also have pecan pie available, or pound cake, or whatever else, but you usually only have pumpkin or sweet potato. Not both. They are pitted against each other in a duel between the burnt orange colored pies that will serve as the final touch to your Thanksgiving feast.

To me, this decision falls clearly along color lines. Like I said, I'm mixed. There is always pumpkin pie at one family gathering and sweet potato at the other. I don't know how others do it beyond white and black but I'm curious. If you happen to be White or mixed like me and have spent your whole life thinking you like pumpkin pie, I urge you to give sweet potato a chance. However, make sure you entrust this pivotal event in your life to someone who knows what they're doing. Do not go to Albertsons and pick up one of their pies. (Do they even make sweet potato? I know they have pumpkin!) Find someone who knows what they are doing. I have a feeling you might end up a convert like myself.

PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO VOTE AT THE TOP RIGHT HAND CORNER OF THE PAGE...DO BOTH SURVEYS SO I CAN COLLECT RELEVANT DATA ON THE MATTER!!!

17 comments:

melanie said...

wow. you're putting a lot on this, bri. unfortunately, i cannot vote in good conscience without a side-by-side comparison. in order to settle this once and for all, to reconcile my taste buds with my identity as an idividual equal parts black and white, there is only one fair way to do this. i know you're far away now, but come christmas, you will have to prepare two pies. bring them to my place for our gift exchange, and me & the white girls (lol!) will make our most informed decisions. and don't say you can't bake, either. you've got a whole month with nothing but training on the books, so you can take your time perfecting the recipes...and no sabotaging the pumpkin either. i can't wait.

Brianna said...

melanie, was that you who placed your vote in the white category too? or was that jasmine?

Diddy said...

I have been trying to decide which I liked better for the past few years. This year Wal-Mart was out of Pumpkin but they had a few Sweet Potatoes left... I got 2 of them and I loved them! They were so good, but to be honest I really can't tell the difference. To me, as long as it's loaded with Coolwhip, it's fine with me... I don't discriminate.

Brianna said...

Well the first problem is you need to taste a real homemade sweet potato pie...it makes all the difference!!!

melanie said...

hahaha! no, i didn't vote yet! i told you i needa side-by-side pie-off! musta been jaz ;o)

Janie said...

I was thinking about the sweet potato/pumpkin pie thing this Thanksgiving as I was reading Los Angelista's Thanksgiving Day blog. She was putting a Pumpkin Pie in the oven.

I have always only made and eaten potato pies, but I don't think I have ever had a homemade Pumpkin. It never dawned on me that the "orange" pie in black houses was Potato and the "orange" pie in white houses was Pumpkin.

Maybe if I try Pumpkin I'll be a convert? lol

Liz said...

I usually make candied sweet potatoes so that's why I started skipping making a sweet potato pie as well. I like both pies and I'll eat both. I'm not picky! I have fond memories of my mom making pumpkin, sweet potato AND pecan pies for Thanksgiving. Then I'd eat a slice of all three.

Unfortunately I've never spent Thanksgiving with any of my white relatives so I have no idea what they eat. Wow, I just realized that I've never spent any major holiday with any white relatives of mine (other than my dad, of course).

Jasmine said...

you know my big toe you always make fun of me for? well, it's gonna end up in your nostril if you keep on poking fun at me. you may be buff, but i'm fat...and i can sit on you.
your white friend,
jasmine

Kia said...

You are right Bri...it's a color thing. Growing up we only had Sweet Potatoe pie the whole time, I never even considered that an orange pie wasn't Sweet Potatoe ...lol. When my sister married a white man and we merged our holiday celebrations, suddenly pumpkin pie started showing up at family dinners, tricking us visually before we tasted it! Sweet potatoe is definitely better, however they are both good.

contact said...

SWEET POTATOE PIE ALL THE WAY! It's in the name. Pumpkin Pie tastes like it's missing all the good ingredients!

contact said...

Bri,

Contact is Ellakisha.

PatricktheRogue said...

Hi ya'll,
I suggest that the South may give you your answer. In the southern United States, sweet potato pie is much more popular than pumpkin, by both black and white folks. So it is not just a "white" thing. I think you will find most of the whites who eat pumpkin pie have roots in the North and/or East. Southern white folks, who have access to both pumpkin and sweet potato pie, routinely choose Sweet potato as their favorite.
Now here is a question for you all. I don't live in the U.S. anymore but when I did live in Orange County(1998), we used to go up to some small family restaurant that was widely known for the "best Sweet Potato Pie" in L.A., if not the country. It was run by a young black woman who had recently been an Olympic medalist (Track and Field, I don't remember which sport). The pies were amazing. I believe the place was in the Inglewood area, but do not remember, as this was ten years and four countries ago. Any one know this place?

Lance Berry said...

My mother is mixed and my dad is Creole. I have dated both white and black woman. I could really care less about what a persons skin color is. The most beautiful woman on the outside can have the ugliest personality!! I love sweet potato pie (my mothers).

Lance Berry said...

Bri, if you ever come to Houston, please go to a place called "This IS IT SOUL FOOD" owned by Tina Knowles (Beyonce's mom" Best sweet potato pie on the earth!!! OH BOY!!!

javieth said...

Sweet potato is a highly nutritious and an alternative for food for their valuable contents of carbohydrate, protein and carotene, which are necessary for normal development and even for the sexual development too, believe it or not. Sweet potato is really helpful for welfare and our body.

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Channon Williams said...

Well I am black and I will tell you all a secret; butter makes it better (coupled with spices, and robustly flavored sweetners). Both sweet potato and pumpkin pies are custard pies that will taste essentially the same if the same ingredients and techniques are applied to each.

The reason why there is a marked difference in taste between (homemade) sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie is cultural due to its preparation not necessarily the vegetables themselves. Most pumpkin pie recipes do NOT call for butter in the batter and do not reflect the pronounced notes of nutmeg with the cinammon.

In addition, Caucasian people's cooking method and palate is quite different than that of many African Americans who traditionally make sweet potato pie. Caucasian people bake with reduced fat (use shortening or canola instead of butter), use a limited amount of spice and flavorings, and add very little sweeters to foods to allow the essence of the vegetable to shine through without the innate flavors being muttled. This is the core concept of classic French cooking which influences much of the preference for Caucasian people. Furthermore, Caucasian people traditionally make their pies with only cinnamon and use half the amount of pumpkin pie spice as what is in a sweet potato pie (maybe adding cardamon) evaporated milk, without butter, use white sugar/corn syrup (in Vermont - maple) half the amount of sweetner, and their pies are often lighter in color as a result or miss the accent flavor of butter. Nonetheless, a traditional sweet potato pie made by black people is made with deep earthy flavored sweetners such as brown sugar, molasses, or honey coupled with the addition of white sugar. These give the sweet potato (or pumpkin) a richer flavor that complements its earthy notes. To enhance the flavor, the musky spices of cinnamon,nutmeg, ginger, all spice, cloves, (which is essentially pumpkin pie spice) are often added individually to give a greater depth of flavor, coupled with butter, often vanilla, lemon, and even buttermilk or cream(southern influences).

When I make pumpkin pie, black people presume it is sweet potato because I flavor it like a traditional sweet potato pie until I tell them it is pumpkin after they eat it.

Try these techniques and you may find that you enjoy pumpkin and sweet potato equally.

Channon Williams said...

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