The Evolution of the Thanksgiving Menu
Ever wonder about the history of Thanksgiving and how exactly those candied yams became included on the annual menu? LiveScience has an interesting article on the evolution of the Thanksgiving menu. It's an interesting read in general as we prepare for this Thanksgiving holiday.
As for the candied yams? LiveScience tells us more:
"Sweet potatoes were one of the many root crops that were a staple in the West Indies," where enslaved Africans were pressed into service on sugarcane plantations, Twitty told LiveScience.
Slaves were given small plots of land unfit for sugarcane production on which to grow food to feed themselves, Twitty said. Some of these slaves worked as sugar-boiling men, who took harvested sugarcane and boiled it down into molasses to make rum. These men would take a cast-iron dish of sweet potatoes to the boiling house and spoon ladles of the molten sugar over the dish. The boiling sugar was so hot it cooked the potatoes as it cooled.
"If you think about one of our favorite dishes at Thanksgiving — candied yams — that started out as food for slaves," Twitty said. (Sweet potatoes are often called yams, but they're actually different plants.)