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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Purple. Naturally.

Americans tend to use the terms yam and sweet potato interchangeably, but truth is, the two are very different plants. The sweet potato genus Ipomea traces to the Americas, and is related to the morning glory family. True yams belong the the genome Dioscorea, and are found throughout Africa and Asia, in various forms and preparations. One notable one is the Japanese mountain yam nagaimo, one of the few eaten raw, and treasured for its slimy texture (which, incidentally, is even more than overcooked okra).

In Southeast Asia, and all the way to Hawaii, the winged yam Dioscorea alata, known variously as ube, ubi, or uhi, depending on location, is an important root crop. It's notable for this strong purple color, which confuse a lot of folks into thinking that it's artificially created. Note that this is not to be confused with the Okinawan purple sweet potato - which is an Ipomea.
Ube in its raw form.

Ube makes a fantastically beautiful ice cream. 

Halo-halo, Shangri-La, Boracay
Ube Ice Cream

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