Nothing is better than baked potatoes, except maybe baked sweet potatoes. It seems many North Americans agree. We eat about seven pounds of sweet potatoes each year and a whopping fifty pounds of white potatoes. I’m here to say we should do our best to flip those numbers around. Not that I mean too much disrespect to the white potato. Mashed, baked, roasted and even fried I love and eat white potatoes often. However, the truth is there considerably less nutritional value in a white potato than there is in the more nutrient-dense sweet potato. In fact, nutritionally speaking baked sweet potatoes are almost too good to be true. Even if you call them yams.
Which you might be inclined to do. Though technically yams and sweet potatoes are different tubers from different genera (that’s the proper plural for genus I think). Years ago, when orange-fleshed sweet potatoes were introduced in the southern United States, producers and shippers thought they needed to distinguish them from the more traditional, white-fleshed potatoes. So the marketing geniuses settled on the name of a similar tuber known in Africa as nyami (of the Dioscorea genus). The word needed to be Americanized (of course?) and became yam. So, in this country at least, yams are actually sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) and have a moist texture and an orange (or sometimes white) flesh. Although the terms are generally used interchangeably, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the label “yam” always be accompanied by “sweet potato” (but not vice versa). Which is probably what led to the confusion and has nothing to do with the Baked Sweet Potatoes I’ve dressed up with a bacon vinaigrette and baked shallots. GREG