> sweet potato
I started using sweet potatoes in my cooking relatively recently after coming across a recipe that was using them in a mash. Before that I would have preferred to stick to “traditional spuds”, which I now admit was a little dogmatic of me given the wonderful texture, flavour and colour these fabulous potatoes have to offer.
The sweet potato is very good for you. If fact, so great are its nutritional properties that this humble root has made to the top of the list by one of US based nutrition organisations as the healthiest food around. Whatever its ranking, the sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A as well as a good provider of vitamin C, potassium and fibre in your diet.
- According to science, sweet potatoes were grown in Peru as early as 750 BC.
- Native Americans were growing sweet potatoes when Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. He in turn brought them back to Europe. By the 16th century sweet potatoes Spanish explorers took it to the Philippines and the Portuguese to Africa, India, Indonesia and southern Asia.
- Today the sweet potato is the 6th principal world food crop.
- The Tater Day festival which takes place in the US state of Kentucky is devoted to honouring the sweet potato. The original celebration was first held back in 1843.
- Sweet potatoes are often confused with yams. But yams are large, starchy roots cultivated in Africa and Asia that can grow up to 100 pounds in size. The word “yam” stems from African slaves in the South of the US who called the sweet potato "nyami" because it reminded them of the starchy, edible tuber of that name that grew in their homeland. The word "nyami" was eventually shortened to the word "yam".