The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a plant that is a member of the morning glory family, grown for its sweet, edible, tuberous roots. Sweet potatoes contain a lot of fiber and beta-carotene. They are eaten around the world.
|Sweet potato in flower|
Hemingway, South Carolina
Although the sweet potato is not closely related to the common potato, they both share the same name origin. The first Europeans to taste sweet potatoes were members of Christopher Columbus's expedition in 1492. After that, many explorers had discovered a wide variety of local names for different cultivars for the sweet potato. However, the part of the name that remained was the indigenous Taino name of the potato, batata. The Spanish combined the word batata with the Quechua word for potato, papa, to create the word patata for the common potato.
In Argentina, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic the sweet potato is called batata. In Mexico, Peru, Chile, Central America, and the Philippines, the sweet potato is known as camote (alternatively spelled kamote in the Philippines), which comes from the Nahuatl word camotli.
In Peru, the Quechua name for a type of sweet potato is kumar, which is very similar to the Polynesian name kumara and its regional Oceanic cognates (kumala, umala, 'uala, etc.). This interesting naming pattern has led some scholars to suspect that the Polynesians were very related to native South Americans.
In New Zealand, the most common cultivar is the red (which is actually colored purple) cultivar called kumara (spelled kūmara in the Māori language), but orange ('Beauregard') and gold cultivars are also available. Kumara is very popular as a roasted food, often served with sour cream and sweet chili sauce. Occasionally, shops in Australia will label New Zealand purple cultivars as "purple sweet potato" to make it appear different from other cultivars. About 95% of Australia's production of sweet potatoes is the orange cultivar named 'Beauregard', originally from North America, known simply as "sweet potato". A reddish-purple cultivar, 'Northern Star', is 4% of production and is sold as "kumara".
In Peru, the use of sweet potatoes dates to 8000 BC.
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