All About Sweet Potato Leaves

It was Wednesday, Greenmarket day on Union Square. So I went there to see if sweet potato leaves and avocado squash were still available. I walked along the stalls and came across green tomatoes (don’t know how to fry them), white eggplants and lilac peppers. All of them made me curious, but sadly I cannot buy everything. Sweet potato leaves were available, avocado squash not or rather just one which had too many brown spots to look like an avocado any more. I bought a bunch of leaves and asked the vendor what to have them with. He said that he uses them as a side dish like spinach, so with lamb or fish maybe. The selection of cheeses was not overwhelming today, but I got a whole grain rye bread after all those wishy-washy rolls. I haven’t got sick of bagels yet but if I have bagels every day I probably will.

After bringing my food home I started off for Central Park. I still had to finish the walk I had started when my leg had been bad. I started on the East Side and finished on the West Side to buy groceries there after my walk. So my first stop was at Jackie Onassis Kennedy Reservoir. It is enormous, spans from the East Side to the West Side and its length is even more than its width. It is popular with runners who go all around it, but not at that time of the day – early afternoon.
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Next stop should have been the park side of the Metropolitan Museum. But there is some construction going on. Maybe they extend it even more into the park. The Obelisk was next, Cleopatra’s Needle, a gift from Egypt to the City of New York. Then Turtle Pond, named after the turtles living in it. I did not see any. The surface is mostly covered by slimy green moss.
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Belvedere Castle, a kitschy stone building with terraces overlooking the Great Lawn.
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The Delacorte Theatre, where Shakespeare in the Park is taking place. Free theater performances during the summer, but you have to stand in line early for a ticket. Shakespeare’s Garden is a beautiful hilly spot with lots of flowers and plants, white and red hibiscus, lilies, ivy and many more. Little signs showing lines of Shakespeare poems are set among the plants.
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I reached the West Side at the Museum of Natural History, famous for its Dinosaurs. I decided to walk down the few blocks to 72nd street to revisit Strawberry Fields. Arriving there I was so happy to have been there before, in 2006 on a rainy afternoon. Then I was the only one and the floor monument had been covered with lots of flowers. Today a single sunflower was lying on the spot surrounded by a bunch of tourists who picked it up to pose for a photo. Some just walked across and trampled on it. I sadly turned round and stepped away to Central Park West, through a row of souvenir vendors and rikshas for rent.

On Broadway I explored Trader Joe’s. Everybody advised me to shop for groceries at Trader Joe’s. And infect it is the most friendly and appealing supermarket I’ve ever been to. Choices are not as vast and overwhelming as in nearby Fairway but they sell a lot of organic stuff at reasonable prices and the atmosphere is so laid back. I got a Vermont Farm Cheddar, free range eggs and some basics I needed. Lots of checkouts are at the exit and there is a guy who directs people in line to the next free checkout where the cashier is lifting a red flag. The checkouts are wooden desks where you place your shopping basket. The cashier asked me if I wanted a paper or a plastic bag and when she saw the lots of pennies in my wallet she encouraged me to pay by them. So I counted 23 pennies onto the desk.

Back home I went to the Laundromat. It was much busier today. Most of the washers and driers were in use and lots of people, mainly woman were around. I stayed there during the washing and read the lesson about writing descriptions. After having started the drier I went around the corner to Lenox Coffee and had a beer. Lenox Coffee is a coffee place mainly, offering a great variety of coffee in a pleasant setting of exposed brick, dark wood and white. Most of the little tables are occupied by laptop users. Beer and wine are available as well. I choose a Californian Lager which had not been asked for during the whole day and thus caused some trouble with the tap. The barman had to dump several glasses before he managed to get a good one for me and then even gave me a discount. I don’t remember the name of the beer but it was rather bitter. One not to drink easily away but to stay with for a while.

Having picked up my dry laundry I went home to prepare my sweet potato leaves.  I had Cajun catfish and sweet potatos with them. The biggest leaves had the size of the palm of my hand. I washed and cut them, removed the stems, and sautéed them in olive oil and garlic – like spinach or collard greens. They are leafier and rougher though, not as soft. Something is slightly scratching your tongue. A faint taste of bitterness comes with them. I liked it. A nice discovery. A whole bunch shrinks to one helping or two at most. The roughness was a nice contrast to the impression of caramel in the sweet potatoes. And its mossy green was a good match with their orange. Sweet and slightly bitter went very well with the spicy Cajun seasoning of the catfish.
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What I learned today:
How to prepare sweet potato leaves – and maybe how to describe them

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One Response to All About Sweet Potato Leaves

  1. Sadie says:

    Maria, what a nice description of your sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of your latest NYC discoveries. I’ve never heard of avocado squash. Too bad you couldn’t find one. It would have been another vicarious culinary experience for me. Xoxo

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