Thanksgiving Yams

by Jennifer Billot

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and I for one am very excited. My brother-in-law is American and, about eight years ago, introduced us to the delights of what is basically a sugar-pumped Christmas dinner in November. On my year abroad last year, I was invited to spend Thanksgiving with my roommate’s huge family in the Sierra Nevada foothills and it was magical. I have never eaten so much in my life. I am not here to lavish on you this experience; if you want to read about it then go look at my blog! I am here however to explore one foodie phenomenon (try saying that quickly five times) that is definitely NOT on our Christmas dinner menu.


I am sure that the majority of you will have only come across this dish in the context of Brad Pitt yelling “YAMS” whilst seated around the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. kitchen table, wanting to overdose on complex carbohydrates. If he ate as much as he piled onto his plate then I’m pretty sure he would have had a serious sugar explosion. Warning: do not eat this dish if diabetic.

The recipe calls for only four basic ingredients: sweet potatoes or yams (basically the same thing), butter, sugar, and marshmallows. For extra festivity, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg is thrown in. To start, heat the butter and sugar in a pan until syrupy. Pour the mixture over sliced sweet potatoes and bake. When the potatoes become mushy, top with marshmallows and grill. There you have it. Sugary, sticky, carbohydrate-y goodness that will leave you curled up on the couch in a sugar induced coma for a number of hours.

This isn’t a love it or hate it dish; more like confounded. The more you eat, the worse you feel, but for some reason you cannot stop. It is the pinnacle of the Thanksgiving dinner, besides the pumpkin pie (which is one of my specialties). I’m not sure whether to applaud, laugh, or be disgusted at the fact that this American invention is considered a “vegetable side dish”. Whilst I ponder this, I’m going to eat the yam leftovers from an early Thanksgiving dinner we had last night. It’s even more delicious cold.


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