Sweet Potatoes

Many say their favorite version of Sweet Potatoes is an even sweeter holiday treat than the Sweet Potato alone. All of us here at Hancock International College agree at Thanksgiving we enjoy Sweet Potatoes mashed with brown sugar, butter and topped with toasted marshmallows! Our ESL students all have their own ways of enjoying this amazing food so let’s look at its history.

Sweetpotatoes.com says, “The sweet potato was carried back to Spain and thence to Italy, from where it spread to Austria, Germany, Belgium and England before the first Irish potatoes arrived. It took 200 years for the English to accept Irish potatoes as being fit for human food, but the sweet potato immediately became a rare and expensive delicacy. Now it is widely grown in Asiatic lands, including Japan and southern Russia, in the warmer Pacific islands, in tropical America, and in the United States as far north as New Jersey.

Outside of the tropics, sweet potatoes thrive only in the warmer temperate climates, and do best in a loose sandy soil that is well drained. They produce seed only in the tropical climates. In northern climates, new plants are obtained by planting roots, or cuttings of the vines, in beds. The sprouts that form are pulled and transplanted to fields one sprout to a ‘hill’. Once well started, they require little moisture and, unless attacked by the numerous diseases and insect pests to which they are subject, develop many potatoes in each hill.

Sweet potatoes produce more pounds of food per acre than any other cultivated plant, including corn and the Irish potato. More nourishing than Irish potatoes because they contain more sugars and fats, they are a universal food in tropical America, and in our southern states where they are baked, candied, boiled and even fried. Vast quantities are canned for consumption in the United States. Of the 200 or more varieties there are two main types. The ‘Jersey’ and related varieties having dry mealy flesh are favored in the northern states. The other type, more watery but richer in sugar and more soft and gelatinous when cooked, is favored in our southern states where they are called ‘yams’. The true yam, however, originated in China and is a different plant related to the lilies. The Irish potato, believe it or not, belongs to the Nighshade Family.”

Full Article: http://www.sweetpotatoes.com/About/BriefHistoryoftheSweetPotato.aspx

Idiom of the Day

Small Potatoes

Meaning: Something or someone insignificant; small fry.

Example: This contract is small potatoes, but it keeps us in business till we get into the real money.