Sweet potatoes from the USA
Traditional potatoes are getting more and more competition. Most of us have always categorised potatoes into two kinds: floury and waxy. But all of a sudden, Americans have started promoting potatoes with a sweet taste. And that’s something a curious bird like Yexi wants to know more about. Or should we say: wants to eat more of? So it’s time to visit the home of the sweet potato: sweet potato growers Danny and his daughter Kim, somewhere far away in North Carolina.
North Carolina is real sweet potato country. Danny enjoys sharing its secret with Yexi: it’s our fertile sandy soils and good climate. No need to teach Danny anything. He’s an expert potato grower and knows all there is to know. ‘I’m the fourth generation to work on this farm’, he proudly says. It seems the love of sweet potatoes starts at an early age, right? He has to laugh. ‘Right you are. I still remember watching the potatoes being planted when I was just seven years old. That lovely smell… hmmm!’
That love is still being passed down from generation to generation – recently to his daughter Kim. Even Danny’s grandson is already working on the farm. Kim told us that the crop requires a lot of manual labour. Fortunately, machinery helps out as well, and a lot of processes at the farm are mechanised. Considering the large fields, machines are essential. Even so, every sweet potato is harvested by hand to guarantee quality. Yexi is amazed when to hear how big the farm is: more than 2,000 hectares, or the equivalent of 4,000 soccer fields.
Danny knows how popular regular white potatoes are. Even so, he sees his sales to Discovered grow every year. ‘We appreciate your efforts to promote sweet potatoes. We have a good working relationship with each other.’ Yes, European consumers increasingly appreciate the American way of eating potatoes. Yexi wants to know if Kim has a culinary tip for him. ‘Hmm… I like to fry them whole in butter. Or I simmer the slices with butter and sugar. I even eat them raw, picked fresh from the field. Just peel and eat – delicious!’
Danny and Kim remark, however, that consumers on the other side of the pond still have a lot to learn. Should you store sweet potatoes in the refrigerator? Never, Danny emphasises. ‘If you do, they’ll taste bitter. And don’t add too much sugar either. Our sweet potatoes are already sweet enough all on their own. By the way, what most of you still don’t know is that you can include sweet potatoes in savoury dishes. Try baking them in the oven with a little onion or a second root vegetable. A little salt and pepper and, hey presto! You have a lovely meal!’
Yexi chuckles. Not only does Danny grow sweet potatoes with a passion, but he also cooks them with passion. But he’s right, Yexi has to admit. And there he was, thinking that a sweet potato could only be eaten for dessert…