Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What's On Your Table?

Sweet potatoes or yams? Many people traditionally refer to sweet potatoes as yams, but have no idea that they are two very different things. The North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission describes the American origins of sweet potatoes on their website:

In 1543 DeSoto’s Spanish explorers found sweet potatoes growing in “Indian gardens” in what became Louisiana. The sweet potatoes were also cultivated in the Carolina area of North America before the European colonization.
In Colonial days sweet potatoes were an item of trade and were shipped from the Carolinas out to northern cities. The potato was an essential food for all the colonies in the days before modern means of preservation.
 Yams originated in Africa and are described on Wikipedia:
The vegetable has a rough skin which is difficult to peel, but which softens after heating. The skins vary in color from dark brown to light pink. The majority of the vegetable is composed of a much softer substance known as the "meat". This substance ranges in color from white or yellow to purple or pink in ripe yams.
Yam tubers can grow up to 8 feet in length and weigh as much as 150 pounds!

Sweet potatoes are similar enough to yams that as African slaves were introduced to them, they referred to the vegetable as the familiar yam. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for my mother-in-law's amazing Sweet Potato Souffle!

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