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The Man Yam Scam!

November 13, 2012

Well it’s that time of year again… Pumpkin carving, leaves falling, pie baking, scarf wearing, present giving time of year!  Its holiday time, the time of year when we get together with our loved ones to celebrate, bake, and make memories that last forever.   The malls and their halls are being decked, lights are being hung on main street, and the farmers markets are saturated with beautiful warm colors.  Hues of rusty browns, oranges, drab greens, deep aubergine, and rich reds are everywhere I look.

Its one of my favorite times of the year.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sunshine girl for sure, but I can’t resist the idea of snuggling up in a warm cashmere sweater with a hot cup of cocoa.  It’s also the time of year that inspires me to get in my kitchen and start baking.  This year I was thinking sweet potato pie.  Mostly because it reminds me of a casserole my mom used to make at Thanksgiving.  Growing up this dish was my favorite part of Thanksgiving.  It was a gooey mess of maple, brown sugar, and creamed yams topped with marshmallows and then baked until they turned brown on the tops.  Now that I’m all grown up (kinda) I have an idea to recreate my moms famous sweet potato dish, with a healthier  version.

My idea – sweet potato and banana, poured into a pie shell and then sprinkled with maple sugar. Yum!  I make my list, I check it twice and then I headed out to the market. I had collected everything on my list except for the spuds, so I stopped in the produce section, and that is where the confusion began. Baskets of sweet potatoes in ten different colors start my mind spinning. There are white sweet potatoes, orange sweet potatoes, long sweet potatoes, small yams, large yams, and WTF? It seemed so simple until now.

Yams, sweet potatoes whats the difference, and which one will make a better pie? I was stumped.  I had to get to the bottom of this controversy, but how?  Well I turned to my trusty friend, the almighty,  Alton Brown.  A brilliant man, who’s gastronomic knowledge has helped me out of many a culinary crisis.  I asked him for some insight on my tater puzzle, and once again I was rescued by his words of wisdom. Not only did he tell me the difference between the potato, the sweet potato, and the yam, but he showed me several varieties and colors of the sweet potato. I learned about the origin of the yam, and how the yams that we know today are not yams at all but sweet potatoes with a southern slang name. Another American marketing scheme…

Armed with new spud knowledge, I was ready to take on my pie!  I am experimenting now, and next week I will post the recipe and pictures, just in time for Thanksgiving.  Thank you Alton, for saving the day once again, you are an infinite source of cookery knowledge, and your potato expertise has given me perfect pie guidance.

If you’d like Alton Brown to share his spud knowledge with you, or if you just want to know what the hell a Man Yam is, then  check out this video:

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