New Voices is on Thanksgiving break for the rest of this week, but we wanted to leave you with a fun fact to entertain you over the holiday.
This Thanksgiving many of us will probably have sweet potato casserole or candied yams on the table. Wait…which is it? Are sweet potatoes and yams the same thing?
It turns out that that’s a more complicated question than you might think. Sweet potatoes and yams are not the same—they aren’t even distantly related. Sweet potatoes come from the family Convolvulacea while yams are from the Dioscoreaceae family.
But to complicate things, what Americans call yams are actually sweet potatoes, not yams. So in the US, yams and sweet potatoes are the same. The confusion comes from the fact that there are two different varieties of sweet potatoes: “firm” sweet potatoes, which are paler and less sweet, and “soft” sweet potatoes, often called yams, which are sweeter and more orange-colored.
I hope you can enjoy your sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving!