Super Tubers at the Farmers Market

The yams at the Farmers Market are tasting fantastic right now.
Although, really, there are no yams.

No, I haven’t lost my mind, or been reading too much Louis
Carroll. You’ll find two varieties of sweet potatoes at our wide
array of Farmers Markets: the pale-skinned sweet potatoes called
“sweet potatoes” and the orange-skinned sweet potatoes that we’ve
all learned to call “yams.”


But true yams are pretty hard to find in the U.S. They are
derived from the Dioscorea genus of plants and the lily
family and they originally hail from Asia and West Africa. Indeed,
the word “yam” is the English variation on the African name
“nyami.” Commercially, the ones that make it to the United States
come from the Caribbean these days, so it’s no wonder that we don’t
see too many here on the West Coast. But since we Americans call
things what we want, the darker sweet potatoes are now called
“yams.” (Though it’s worth noting that when it comes to official
government nomenclature, the yams are always dually labeled “sweet
potatoes” when being shipped.)

What we get to eat from our markets then are technically all
sweet potatoes, which have a South American origin and come from
the Morning Glory plant family.

To make things more confusing, what we call “sweet potatoes” are
not terribly sweet, but pretty similar to a plain old white potato.
And what we call “yams,” on the other hand, have flesh that’s
brilliantly sweet and moist, and good for you — high in
antioxidants and vitamin C. In any case, they’re both great to eat
this Thanksgiving season, so here’s a recipe for the orange-skinned

To prepare the orange-skinned sweet potatoes:
Wash “yams” and prick all over with a fork. Place directly on a
rack in a 450-degree oven, and cook for 30-35 minutes until soft to
the touch. (If you fancy a clean oven, place a sheet of foil on the
bottom of the oven beneath the “yams”) Serve whole or mash them
with butter, salt, and pepper


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.