Named “Mabi” by the Caribbean, the Sweet Potato is a creeping herbaceous plant of the Convolvulaceae family; like Cassava, it probably has an American origin. There is only one species, very variable: Ipomea batatas L. It is a cultivated form, resulting from a wild species very common in our islands, Ipomea tiliacea (Eat-rabbit). Sweet Potato has long been the staple food for the people of our islands, as the story of the first chroniclers in the West Indies proves.
Multiple ways to prepare Sweet Potato In 1635, Father Bouton cited, among the herbs of the country, the leaves of Potatoes “which animals are fed in a few places”. “They are good at soup and the tip of their offspring is considered asparagus.” A little later, the RP Du Tertre wrote “If in Europe, the wheat runs out, we are afraid to fast, but when there would not be a root of Cassava in all America, Potatoes can to serve bread and food to men, and to all animals, without exception of any, and even now I dare to assure that there are half the inhabitants of the islands, mainly among the English, who do not live something else. When the hurricanes have ravaged the Cassava on our islands so many times, we have always had recourse to Potatoes, without which many people would have died of hunger. I certainly believe that there is no one who has been in America, who admits that the Potato is the best food in the country. As a mark of this, we have always observed that those who ordinarily use it are fat, in a good point, and are doing wonderfully well. “
Father Labat, a friend of good food and good cuisine, wrote in his turn: “Potatoes make good with salt and a little water, and we cover them well with their leaves. When they are out of the fire, we cover the cauldron with a large cloth to loosen the smoke inside, and they finish cooking. however we make a pimentade with lemon juice, salt and crushed chili. We take the Potatoes from the cauldron, we remove the skin, which leaves the flesh as long as we press it, and we eat them by dipping them in the chilli pepper.
When we cook them with meat to serve as bread, as our Buccaneers, our hunters in Santo Domingo and many locals do, we just wash them well without peeling them; and put them in the pot when the meat is skimmed. They cook themselves in this way, and by taking advantage of the fat in the meat, they communicate their juice and smell to it. When everything is cooked, it is easy to remove the skin from the Potatoes and eat them like bread with meat, not to mention the chilli pepper, which is the favorite sauce of many people. We peel them and cut them into quarters, when we want to cook them with meat like we make turnips, carrots and other roots; for then they melt completely, and make a thick soup like a puree of a very good taste. We eat them for dessert like fruit. After they are cooked under hot ashes, they are peeled and served with an orange juice and sugar. We often eat them all hot without adding anything, because this fruit being cooked, carries its sauce with it, and is always good. I even think it healthier this way. ” Nowadays, the ways of preparing the Sweet Potato remain almost identical to those described by Father Labat. We eat it boiled, mashed, in jam. One of its main industrial uses is the manufacture of what is called “chestnut puree”. The taste of the Potato is indeed very similar to that of the Chestnut.