The Sweet Potato or Kamote: Filipinos Love This Root Crop
Sweet potatos, anyone? Filipinos call this, kamote and they have long had a love affair with this root crop. The sweet potato is a vital food source since ancient times and in times of strife such as during the Second World War, many Filipinos got through harrowing times eating kamote.
Sweet potato (kamote) dipped in sugar.
Since time immemorial, Filipinos have had a love affair with the lowly sweet potato or kamote as it’s called locally. This root crop is a vital food source since ancient times and in past times of strife such as the Second World War, Filipinos got through the harrowing time eating kamote.
The sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, is a starchy, sweet root that is considered a vegetable. It is related to the common potato, Solanum tuberosum. In terms of texture, the sweet potato is coarser and denser than the potato that’s made into French fries. Still, it’s a good alternative. In the Philippines, the sweet potato or kamote (pronounced ka-mó-te) as it’s called, is often used to make Filipino local version of french fries called kamotecue. It’s also deep fried but sugar is added to give it a sweet caramel coating.
Traditionally, kamote is simply boiled and then skinned by hand in order to be eaten. That’s the quickest way to eat kamote. Sweet potato is already sweet to the taste but dipping the chunks in sugar makes it more candy-like and this makes it appealing even for children. In remote rural areas in the Philippines, the kamote is a staple and it’s what is usually eaten for meals after the root has been either foraged in the wilds or harvested from small plots in the backyard.
The natives of the Philippines such as the Aeta still living in their ancestral lands always eat kamote. It’s rich in carbohydrates which provide them with the energy to live in environments that would be considered as harsh by people by city folks. In the local market or palengke, kamote is often sold by bulk. The roots are cleaned by immersing them in water in a wide vat and then stomping on them in order to remove the dirt.
Often regarded as a lowly food, the kamote has kept the Filipinos alive though dark times. Revolutionaries of olden times have subsisted on kamote in the jungles of the archipelago and it’s kamote which kept Filipino and American soldiers alive during the Second World War in their quest for victory in battles in the boondocks (from bundok, or mountain). The kamote has and still continues to be a big part of Filipino life.
Kamote tubers being prepared.
Mashed Kamote Recipe
Boiled kamote tubers
Skin the kamote and mash it. Add enough evaporated milk and sugar to taste. Mix well. Chill. Serve!