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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I yam what I yam....or yarn't I?

Now that (American) Thanksgiving arrives, grocery stores across the country are building stock in cranberries, turkeys, and yams. But, while at my local grocery store, I noticed that they had a special on yams ($0.59/lb) while sweet potatoes were close to a dollar, if not more, per pound.

Holding the yam and the sweet potato side by side, I really couldn't tell a difference. Granted, the yams at the store were thinner in comparison but the flesh, meat, texture, color and smell were all the same.

So what is the difference between the yam and the sweet potato?

I've heard people say that the yam is sweeter. But is it? I just had 1/2 a yam yesterday and it tasted exactly like a sweet potato. Or is it because I didn't candy it or cover it with marshmallow?

Last night, I decided to research it the Wikipedia way, only to discover that the yam you find in the United States and Canada is NOT actually a yam...simply a marketed slightly softer/younger sweet potato. They're not even of the same family. Sweet potatoes come from the Convolvulaceae family while yams come from the Dioscoreaceae (not that I would expect anyone to know that...I just wanted to point out that they come from two completely different unpronounceable family names).

But let's take a quick gander so you can see the difference between the yam and the sweet potato and settle this once and for all.

Here are some pictures of some actual yams from Asia and Africa...

They're quite a bit different than my 2 choices at the supermarket the other day and I'm sure they're different than the choice you will be faced with this Thanksgiving holiday.

So... $0.59 a pound for this yam?

or $1.00 a pound for this sweet potato?

You decide.