View Full Version : Call Any Vegetable and It Might Respond: I Yam What I Yam

2006-Oct-01, 05:30 AM
Yesterday a truck was parked at the courthouse square in Ripley, MS. The old fellow unpacking the produce the truck carried had various sized baskets of sweet potatoes, which he called yams, for sale. I picked a 10 pound basket for $2, money well spent, since they nuked beautifully in the microwave, and with a little butter, were very tasty.

This caused me to think of my first Thanksgiving after moving from CT to SC. At the company buffet I was served what was called sweet potatoes. I expected what's the usual in New England, a mildly sweet orange vegetable enhanced by a patty of butter. What I got instead was something so sickeningly sugary that it wrecked the rest of the meal. It was like having dessert way too early. Turned out I was served something called "candied yams".

Some research shows that these aren't yams at all but a slightly different strain of the basic sweet potato (http://homecooking.about.com/library/weekly/aa112497.htm). I wonder how many other dishes are out there with names that don't really reflect what's in them? Growing up, what was called, in Connecticut, "Welsh Rabbit" was always a source of amusement.

Jeff Root
2006-Oct-01, 06:40 AM
Ten pounds for $2! That's all the farmer gets, huh?

As far as I know, I've never seen or eaten a true yam. I've
read that they aren't available in the US, but that probably
isn't strictly so. Some months ago I looked at a USDA website
showing the states in which numerous different varieties of
sweet potato are grown. Strange distribution.

Standard Thanksgiving fare throughout my childhood was
sweet potatoes with marshmallows. It's been a while since I
last had marshmallows in anything. I kinda like what they do
for sweet potatoes, though, as long as it stays within limits.
They can get very cloying very suddenly.

I'll probably alternate between salty and sweet seasoning on
the sweet potatoes I've got in the "pantry" (paper bag).
Enough brown sugar to be just a shade less than "candied".

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Jeff Root
2006-Oct-01, 06:43 AM
I vaguely recall reading about the etymology of "rarebit" and
"rabbit" many years ago. Once was enough.

-- Jeff, still in Minneapolis

2006-Oct-01, 11:43 AM
Ten pounds for $2! That's all the farmer gets, huh?That's all the farmer was asking for.

Wasn't aware that root veggies had an undocumented surcharge attached to them.


2006-Oct-01, 11:59 AM
Growing up in CT, I had experienced sweet potatoes (with butter as you describe), yams, sweet potatoes with Marshmellows (as Jeff describes), candied yams, and a musical instrument called "sweet potato". The yams I got happened only once at a church thing when we had some cultural exposure at a meal made by visitors from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Roy Batty
2006-Oct-01, 01:31 PM
Bombay Duck is rather nice :)

2006-Oct-01, 02:42 PM
True yams are actually availible, but one needs to know where to look. Many ethnic markets owned by/catering to Pacific Islanders carry them... at about 4X the price of sweet potatoes. I know of 2 in Salt Lake City, several in the LA area and at least one in Seattle. Here in the desert SW, I have yet to find one but there is a new market owned by folks from the Philipines that looks promising. I will stick to sweet taters, just on price alone. $0.20 a pound? great!

2006-Oct-01, 03:16 PM
and a musical instrument called "sweet potato". Sometimes said to be the world's oldest musical instrument, the ocarina, aka the Wild Thing

2006-Oct-01, 10:50 PM
I wonder how many other dishes are out there with names that don't really reflect what's in them? Growing up, what was called, in Connecticut, "Welsh Rabbit" was always a source of amusement.
Lady fingers (http://www.joyofbaking.com/Ladyfingers.html) (always got a laugh when I was a kid.
Baked Alaska (http://dessert.allrecipes.com/AZ/Bkdlsk.asp)
In Ohio they sometimes call cherry vanilia ice cream "whitehouse", I never have known why. Maybe because we are the birthplace of so many presidents?

2006-Oct-02, 09:32 AM
Or the famous cherry trees of Washington, DC?

2006-Oct-02, 09:57 PM
I've eaten potatoes of all varieties, including both sweet potatoes and yams, the latter of which are significantly different. Haven't encountered any difficulty getting them from my local grocery, regardless of where I've lived (FL, LA, VA, TX, CA, WA, NC, NV, or even Korea or Germany).

Sweet potatoes and yams are different, but I've been able to find both throughout the world.

Problem??? Not.

2006-Oct-02, 10:00 PM
Baked Alaska (http://dessert.allrecipes.com/AZ/Bkdlsk.asp)


I've only had it once, but if I ever get to sample it again, I'm a bottomless pit!