November 20, 2002
APPLE ON YAMS:In the Kingdom of the Sweet Potato (R. W. APPLE Jr., November 20, 2002, NY Times)
FOR a small town, Opelousas has staked a lot of claims to fame. Clifton Chenier, perhaps the greatest zydeco musician of them all, was born here. Tony Chachere's pungent Cajun seasoning, a staple on supermarket shelves across the country, is blended here. Paul Prudhomme, the roly-poly chef who made the blackening of fish a national obsession, grew up on a nearby farm.
But the big event of the year in Opelousas - the local equivalent of Pasadena's Rose Parade or Punxsutawney's Groundhog Day - features something altogether different: the sweet potato. Late every October, as the harvest is reaching its climax, just in time for Louisiana growers to ship the tubers off to their appointed places on holiday menus in countless American homes, local civic dignitaries stage a five-day sweet potato extravaganza. A treasured tradition for the last 57 years, it's called the Yambilee Festival.
The name is the town's contribution to the mindless muddle of tuber terminology, which would drive Linnaeus up the wall.
Always thought the idea of baked sweet potato street vendors was cool. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 20, 2002 10:54 PM