Thursday, December 3, 2015

I think, therefore I yam

Or is it "I think, therefore I sweet potato?"

Turns out it's the second one. I finally got it straight. All those ugly looking tubers in your neighborhood grocery store, the ones hanging out near the potatoes and the onions, are sweet potatoes. Apparently, we've been lied to all these years. Every last one is a sweet potato. 

But the deception continues because a sweet potato isn't really a potato. More lies! They're not in the potato family, but rather the Convolvulaceae, or morning glory family. True yams are something completely different, way more dry and starchy and have scaly skins. But the moniker has stuck here and you'll find them named whatever makes them sell. Because their looks are not their best asset. Raw or baked, these guys are pretty ugly.

This was labeled Asian sweet potato.

These lovelies were called Beauregard yams.

The lighter skinned ones are usually labeled sweet potatoes.

The checker told me the insides of the purple ones would be white.

Two by two, they went into the oven for the ultimate taste test!

We don't smother our sweet potatoes in marshmallows or brown sugar or butter. We just bake them and eat them plain. They are really hard to mess up. Scrub them gently under water. Put them on some parchment paper, foil or Silpat, and then on a baking sheet. Put them in the oven at 350 - 400 degrees and let them bake until they're done. When are they done? Hmm, how do I put this delicately...

Cook them until they poop.

Cook the c€@p out of them.

Cook them until they're even uglier than when you put them in. 

That purple sweet potato is the one the checker said would be white on the inside.
What is it with the lies?

My verdict in the ultimate taste test? This particular purple one was a bit dry, but I've had others that were moist, so I'm not writing off the purples ones yet. The white one (labeled sweet potato) was really delicious, with a mild flavor. The Beuregard yam and the regular old yam on the far right had the softest texture and the "yammiest" flavor. They are so full of color,  I bet nutrition-wise maybe the yams have one up on the lighter fleshed sweet potatoes.

If I could find one that has the skin of a sweet potato and the flesh of a "yam" that would be my dream tuber. But they are all terrific and yummy, so flavorful I don't want to put one thing on them. And since there are nearly 400 varieties grown, I see more yam poop in our future. Excuse me, sweet potato poop.