20 February 2009

The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love

In 1982, Jackson Mississippi threw it’s first, unsanctioned and little appreciated St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It was thrown on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. Jill Conner Brown volunteered to be in the parade. She would be the Sweet Potato Queen -- she a few other gals. No one really cared about St. Patrick, but the Queens were a hit. After that, in true Southern fashion, the Jackson, Mississippi St. Patrick’s Day Parade was moved to a Saturday close to St. Patrick’s Day. Why, because they’re Southern and there’s a bit of drinking and as Brown will tell you, “we are more concerned with the convenience afforded by a Saturday parade.”

The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love by Jill Conner Brown is not technically a cookbook, but it does have some of the signature dishes of Sweet Potato Queendom… the more fat and chocolate the better. As a child, the founder of the Jackson, Mississippi St. Patrick’s Day Parade was given an entire can of sweetened condensed milk to eat for his birthday and he waited all year to get it.

Here is a signature dish featuring sweetened condensed milk.

Danger Pudding

To make Danger Pudding, you take your can, and without opening it, you boil it for an hour or so. Now, the people who make sweetened condensed milk are hip to this, and they say flat-out you shouldn’t do this, ever. They feel so strongly about it, they actually print this warning right on the label: “Danger! Do not heat unopened can!’ So be forewarned: You’re risking your life and assorted kitchen parts by doing it. In my opinion, however, it’s worth the hazard.

The reason Eagle Brand puts that warning on the side is so that when, in the unlikely event, a can of heated , sweetened condensed milk does explode in your kitchen and you are maimed by shrapnel and molten toffee, you cannot blame Eagle Brands and sue their ass off. In the spirit of this litigiousness let me tell you right now --- don’t even try this! No matter how incredibly yummy it might be.

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