Thursday, March 12, 2009

Welcome to My World

I was on a morning jog the other day and I passed at least a dozen people in cars or in their yards. It's instinct: I always wave and say hi. That's just what you do in the South. You greet everyone with a kind word or a smile. But nine out of ten times, the people just gave me an odd stare back and a few sweet souls may even add an awkward half hand raise.

A Southerner possesses a genuine spirit of hospitality and an acceptance that we're all in this together. It's the philosophy by which you're raised. I can still hear my grandad offering the garbage man a cold Coke each week as he thanked them for their service. It's bringing new neighbors a casserole to welcome them to the neighborhood. It's returning the grocery buggy for the elderly lady parked next to you. And it's amazing what kind of good will that breeds.

Well, I've made a promise to myself to preserve that Southern hospitality no matter where I live. As I was completing my jog, I passed by a house that had recently been remodeled. I'd never met the owners before and thought it was high time to serve up some of that hospitality and formally welcome them to the neighborhood.

I had just seen an enticing recipe for a sweet potato pound cake (seriously how perfect is that?!) care of Molly Wizenberg of Orangette that was adapted from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott. The picture alone made my mouth water. I was invigorated and went immediately to the grocery store to pick up some sweet potatoes.

The cake came together very quickly and easily. I don't know why making a cake can intimidate me at times. I think I get overwhelmed by the prospect of making icing. I personally am not an icing girl. I just don't care for it. In fact, my mom (bless her heart) always had to leave some cupcakes un-iced for me. While some may think those looked rather sad, I was overjoyed by the opportunity to eat 100% cake! Yellow mix was my favorite. I'm the person that Coldstone's Creamery made the cake batter ice cream for. My mom on the other hand is all about the icing. We make a great team when it comes to eating cake--she eats the icing off both our slices and I get all the cake. I personally think I get the better end of that stick. But this lovely cake only requires a glaze, which I can embrace.

It looked so good when it was freshly glazed. I wanted so badly to just slice into that cake and eat a big wedge of that sweet potato goodness. In fact, it seemed like cruel and unusual punishment to make such a thing of deliciousness--only to have to give it away. It made me almost rethink my hospitable purpose. I did try to figure out a way to "sample" it without leaving any noticeable trace yet came up empty handed. But as soon as I dropped off the cake to my new neighbors, all that epicurean frustration disappeared and was replaced by a feeling of contentment and pride in my heritage.

And I started making a new cake for myself. . . .

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