Kanako's Kitchen

Yakiimo: Roasted Sweet Potato

Posted in mid-afternoon snack by Kanako Noda on October 19, 2009

yakiimoRoasted sweet potatoes are probably the most popular snack in Japan in the autumn. It’s simple, really: you just roast a sweet potato over dry heat. Nothing more. It’s certainly comfort food but…can something this simple be counted as Japanese home cooking?

Based on this snack’s popularity, I think the answer is a definite yes.

Actually, the word “snack” gives the wrong idea. When you hear “snack” you picture someone munching junk food mindlessly out of a bag while watching TV. The word I was looking for is おやつ – “oyatsu” – which isn’t like that at all.

Oyatsu is a concept that doesn’t really seem to exist in North America. It’s more like “afternoon tea” is for the English, or “merienda” in Spain and Latin America: a very light, mid-afternoon meal mothers feed their kids when they come home from school. Oyatsu-eating comes complete with its little rules, rituals and repetitions. In a way, it’s a real shame that there’s no oyatsu culture out here.


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