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Tuesday, 15 May 2018


I am teaching once again. The school where I started out as a young teacher was in desperate need of an English teacher and I agreed to go help out. It turned out that the Grade 11's were doing Chinua Achebe's book Things Fall Apart as their prescribed reader. In this book, the main character, Okonkwo, grows yams, a staple food in Nigeria, the setting of the book. I had never seen or tasted a yam and had a hard time explaining to the kids what this was. The other day I walked into my local greengrocer, and they had yams on the shelf! I immediately bought one, at much to high a price, to show to my pupils. Then I returned home with it and experimented with cooking it. Join me today on a taste exploration of yams!

This is what the yam looked like.

On the inside it was stark white.

I noticed that it quickly started colouring due to oxidization once I'd cut it. For this reason, I hurried to get it in water.

I decided to cut the yam into thick slices before peeling it.

I put it in water to stop the oxidization, but also to wash it.

After tasting a small morsel of it, I realized it had a very bitter after taste. I therefore put it in clean salt water.

In the meantime, I brought a pot of oil to the boil.

I cut the yam into thin slices.

The slices were returned to the salt water to prevent them from discolouring.

Finally, I added the yam slices to the hot oil.

I prepared a plate with kitchen towels to drain the worst oil from the yams when it came out of the oil.

The yam slices soon started puffing up very interestingly.

I removed them from the oil when they had turned golden brown.

I tasted one and was appalled at the bitter after taste it still left in my mouth. I added some roast potato seasoning to the fried yams.

The seasoning improved the taste, but it was still far from delicious. I would try something else with the leftover yam slices.

This time I brought a pot of water to the boil and added a bit of salt and quite a bit of sugar.

I added the yam slices to the warm water and allowed it to boil.

I soon realized I would need a bigger pot and quickly transferred the yams.

When they had turned soft, I mashed them.

I added a scoop of butter and a little more sugar and gave it a quick stir.

I desperately hoped this would be better than the fried yams.

This version of the yams turned out absolutely delicious. It is very similar to sweet potato in taste and consistency. If I ever get my hands on another yam, I will boil it, mash it, add cream and honey, and then bake it in the over for a little while.

Two completely different versions of the same vegetable.

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy my books here:
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