A common misconception is that sweet potatoes and yams are the same thing. It is very amusing when it causes a polite disagreement at the supper table which then degrades to a slightly louder and less polite dissent, followed by an all out food fight. (I do recommend that at these times, just sit back in your chair and watch, never ever get involved, always record the evidence)
So talking to a friend about food, naturally, her mother says “pass the yams” to a sibling. The sibling, a teacher, politely dissents that the bowl of mashed orange stuff on the table are in fact sweet potato. The conversation rapidly degrades into name calling and eventually flung “yam”.
So. What IS the difference, and why is everyone so very confused?
Way back in the day, before your grandparents were “young”, farmers and produce peddlers had the original, white fleshed, harder sweet potato. Then some brilliant person introduced the now popular brown skinned, orange coloured, sweet tasting and soft, sweet potato. They felt that this would be very confusing for the consumer and the cultivator alike and wanted to make it easy to tell the two apart. So the name Yam was adopted due to the similarities.
In my research no one ever identified who “they” were that decided these things, nor do I understand how anyone thought that there was any form of similarity between the yam and popular orange sweet potato. Also, no one thought that eventually someone would start to bring produce into the markets from other places, like the yam from its native home in Africa, and try to sell it?
|The sweet potato you would see in a supermarket||Yam, shaggy, long, and not orange|
So there you have it folks. The reason that sweet potatoes and yams are confused, and how to tell the difference between them, and even a way to make a stuffy family dinner more entertaining. But wait! Recipe blog! Hello! Here is a great recipe for Sweet Potatoes on the grill.
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