Thursday, January 8, 2009

More food research--sweet potatoes and the Lone Star State...

I've been having a lot of fun researching 19th century food and cooking for our upcoming event. Like all research projects, however, one can only cram so much information into so little space (i.e. special signs, handouts, etc). Fortunately we have a blog! Yay! Another outlet for exciting 19th century food information! Don't act like you're not interested... :) :) :)

Sweet potatoes...(a.k.a. "I yam what I yam"--or not since sweet potatoes are actually in a different plant family than yams...but I digress)

Here are some great "morsels" from The Handbook of Texas Online:

"The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) belongs to the Convolvulaceae, or morning glory family. It is a native of tropical America and is unrelated to the true yam, which is a climbing plant of the genus Dioscorea and an Old World native. The sweet potato was first cultivated in Texas by the Spanish and was later grown by Anglo-American settlers. Several varieties of sweet potatoes have been grown in Texas, including the Puerto Rico, Goldrush, Redgold, Allgold, Centennial, Jewel, and Red Velvet. Sweet potatoes were grown in Texas in the late 1800s primarily for home consumption. The 1870 census shows 68 of 139 counties reporting production of over 10,000 bushels and a total state production of 2,188,041 bushels. Only eighteen counties reported no sweet potato production in 1870. Sweet potatoes were not grown commercially in Texas until the early 1900s."

Sweet potatoes are not only historic...they're tasty and healthy! Try this recipe at home for spicy sweet potato fries...

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