When my friend Nzwakazi gave me Abraham Verghese’s novel ‘ Cutting for Stone’ to read, the back-cover blurb had my mouth watering at the mention of the cross-cultural conflicts of a medical doctor spanning Britain, Ethiopia, India, the Yemen et al. I’ve evidently been reading too much Annie Hawes, because – whilst the cuisines are mentioned – they are not exactly features in the story. There is a lot of interesting information about medicine and – certainly – about the history of female surgery. I soldiered on and finished the book (834 pages, excluding end-pages). Judith may rate it higher, but I found insuffiecient character motivation in the plot; perhaps 3/5, and the fault of a ruthless editor. I finished the book while waiting in the car outside the supermarket whilst Grandy was doing her weekly shop. Several strokes have left her very slow and a yield of 2 tomatoes, a loaf of bread, a roasted chicken and the newspaper can occupy her for upwards of two hours.
Anyhow, I got out of the car to enjoy the sunshine and have a cigarette and was joined by an amiable old chap who was engaged in the similar pursuit; of waiting for his wife to do her shopping. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew this man from somewhere and it was only later in the afternoon, when I thought back on it that things clicked into place, thanks to a passage from Verghese’s book:

“A drunk named Jones looked eerily like his father. Thomas realized it was the waxy complexion, the swollen parotids, the loss of the outer third of the eyebrows, and the puffy eyelids of alcoholism that gave both men a leonine appearance. Now that he was trained to see, he put together the other clues he reacalled: red palms, the starburst of capillaries on cheek and neck, the womanly breasts, and the absence of armpit hair.” Lookit; where are their eyebrow-ends??? (pics pinched off the net.)

No doubt my new parking-lot friend had added a bottle of sherry or some-such to his wife’s grocery list. Coincidently, I later read in one of the tabloids that womanly breasts are also a dead-giveaway that men are using Viagra, but I’ll leave it at the missing 1/3rd of the eyebrows for now and move on to the orange sweet potatoes, shall I?

En-route to the mall, I’d been bending Grandy’s ear about Our Betsy scoffing all my pansies and she took it upon herself to buy Betsy a bag of fingerling sweet potatoes. We were most intrigued when we presented these to Betsy: the flesh is bright orange. We’ve never seen anything like it before. Our standard sweet potatoes are a sort of dull beige. Can anyone shed any light?
Betsy seems to like them well enough!



  1. Gandy is really a special old duck is she not?
    Wander what would happen to her if you were not there to take her shopping etc. etc.

  2. You also get some sweet potatoes which are almost purple inside,although I haven’t seen those for years.Share the potatoes with your bunny,they are incredibly healthy to eat..

  3. We bought those sweet potatoes in Hazyview and they are delicious. I think they are the variety McCains use for their frozen sweet potato chips

  4. Those orange sweet potatoes are the common variety we buy here. They are everywhere! I prefer the purple skinned variety or the ones they call ‘white’ that sort of have a creamy brown skin – they are the sweetest! Your bunny is too cute and I’m sure he enjoyed his new snack very much xx

  5. Hmm…I’ve only seen sweet potatoes with bright orange flesh here…and what interesting facts you provided about physical appearance…now I’m going to be watching folks on the street. 😉

  6. I truly thought all sweet potatoes were orange as that’s all I’ve ever seen. Yams are similar, and we use them in the sane way, but sometimes they are less orange, more bland in flavor.

  7. As other North Americans have said, our sweet potatoes are typically orange. I buy yams (orange again) because they are more alkaline – i.e. less sugar apparently. I eat them raw, roasted, stir fried, steamed or boiled. They are great in soups, stews and salads. But then, Cin, I can say that about any veggie!

    Right now it’s asparagus season – YUM. A friend told me that she can’t eat it because it’s one of the foods that causes her to have blood in her urine. Too fibrous. Ye Gads! News to me…

    Also, I found a sale on Coconut Milk so have been experimenting with it. I made a stir fry with quinoa cooked in Coconut milk. I loved it – read that it’s the plant version of a mother’s milk.

    Having you back here is a bit of old home week…I’ve missed you, even though you’ve been part of my meditation for some time. Have you felt haunted? 😀

    • I am going to be making lots of soup, Amy, will keep me from freezing to death. Haven’t felt haunted, but something’s working, i sure feel a lot better. Thanks ❤

  8. We get the bright orange and purple ones here (sweet potatoes, that is, not man boobs :)) – the orange ones are also delicious as thinly shaven crisps.

  9. It’s all interesting stuff!!

    The Sign of Hertoghe or Queen Anne’s sign is a thinning or loss of the outer third of the eyebrows, and is a sign of hypothyroidism – low thyroid production.
    And Gynecomastia: Male Breast Enlargement is almost always due to weight gain. If male breasts suddenly increase in size and/or become painful, however, then medical intervention is required. In old age, hormonal imbalances may be the cause.
    Possible medical causes of male adult breast growth include kidney failure, chronic liver disease, tumors, genetic disorders such as Klinefelter’s syndrome, side effects of some therapeutic drugs, and exposure to androgen hormones taken by some bodybuilders.

  10. Skip a town and there lives Verghese. Folks around here love him and his book is like the bible. Have tapped into it yet myself, but what he is doing medically is appreciated.

    Just learned that there is a vast difference between sweet potatoes and yams, the latter bing the most nutrition and something one is allowed despite all sorts of blood sugar and blood fat problems. – Your trivia for the day ….

    Only just getting back into the swing of things – meaning regular posts and blog visits – after several months. Have missed reading The Only Cin.

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