Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Sweet Potato I've Been Waiting For

It doesn't happen so much now, but last fall, around 8pm every night, Nick and I would hear a sound similar to screeching tires or a steam engine. Loud sounds are frequent, but this high-pitched noise catches your attention no matter what you're doing or where you are in the house. Thanks to MexicoBob, whose blog teaches me so much about Mexican culture, uncovered the mystery. A steam engine, almost. It's the sound of steam blasting through the sweet potato cart's pipe. And they're called camotes, and the vendor is a camotero

Since reading up on camotes covered in sweetened condensed milk, I waited for the camotero to swing by my street. It took him a few weeks to get here, but he made it last night. As soon as I heard the noise, I peeked out the window to see where he was (and RIGHT across the street he was). I noticed several others, of all ages, rushing to his cart, too. I grabbed my wallet, ran downstairs, and whew, camotero was still there. When I arrived back upstairs, I gleamed with pride with that small piece of tradition in my hand. I looked back out the window to
 see who else might be out there, but camotero was gone just as fast as he came. 

So, yeah, it pretty much tasted like how it looks. Dry, starchy, and undercooked, but I forgive camotero this time for having a bad sweet potato day. I will try him again next time, but maybe I'll do the roasted plantains instead. He said he's not around these parts often because he's got a lot of ground to cover. Is this yet another endearing, dying tradition?

Not long thereafter, the tamales Qaxaqueños guy strolled up with his goods. But, Nick had had enough of my street-food antics for the night, and he gave me a firm look and a firm, "NO!" 

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