Saturday, July 31, 2010


I have a thing for purple.  My bedroom was a soothing shade of lavender for years.  I own more than one pair of purple shoes.  Heck, I was even Violet Beauregard in the school play in third grade.  So when an article in Vegetarian Times (January 2010) featured varieties of sweet potato that included a purple one, I knew I had to have some.

It turns out these are not easy to come by.  I finally found them at Berkeley Bowl, selling for almost three times as much per pound as every other variety.  But, I reason, I buy less than a pound at a time and I NEVER waste them.  No, I devour them.  They are the sweetest sweet potato I've ever tasted. They tend to be a bit drier and starchier than other varieties, but that just means I add a little extra butter and milk. Truth be told, most of the time I don't bother to mash or butter.  I roast them in the pan with chicken, so they get lightly coated with the drippings, and become so sweet and tender that they practically melt in my mouth. 

Mashed, with skin on.

Add these Okinawa sweet potatoes to a laundry list of purple foods I've been eating lately.  Tomatoes.  Radishes.  Cherries.  Plums.  Bell peppers at the farmers' market when I lived in the Midwest.  Asparagus comes in purple too, but I was sorely disappointed to discover that it releases its color and turns green when steamed.  Ugh, what a waste.

Purple is so unexpected in the realm of food.  It feels somehow extra-special, powerful, surreal, as if any food that accumulates such an intense pigment has to be other-worldly and somehow magical.  Not sure I'll develop X-ray vision or superhuman strength any time soon, but I will have fun trying.


  1. I have never heard of a purple sweet potato!! I too, think that purple is an awesome color and it's my favorite. From Rayann, Mrs. Wilmot's daughter

  2. The purple ones are tricky because they are WHITE on the outside! You may have walked right past them in the produce department and not even realized it. But if you can't find them in Illinois, tell your mom to make that long-overdue trip to California with you, and I promise I'll make you some.

  3. Hi, Mia! This is Kaho with Chuzai Living. Thanks for adding me as a blog you follow. I'm so honored! I used to live in Okinawa from 2006 to 2008 and purple sweet potatoes make gorgeous desserts sold all over Okinawa. I liked their sweet potato pie (Japanese version) and it was a good souvenir for visiting my family in mainland Japan. I thought that it was quite tasty, too. I loved the food there.

  4. Wow, Kaho! The purple sweet potato pie sounds incredible! I would love to see a photo of that. I would also like to find more recipes that call for purple sweet potatoes in particular, and allow that great color to come through.
    Thanks for letting me know about that-- I'll start searching!