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Sep. 21, Sun.*This program was first broadcast on Nov. 1, 2012

Potatoes, Taros and Yams

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, taros, yams - these are just some of Japan's imo, a word that describes starchy vegetables with enlarged underground roots and stems. Sweet potatoes saved countless lives during the great famines of the samurai era and the food shortages of the Second World War. Konjac is a food with a unique appeal. It has practically no nutrients or calories, and little flavor, but its unique texture is widely enjoyed in Japan. It also, believe it or not, played a role in a Japanese wartime plan to terrorize the United States with fire balloons. Japanese mountain yams are prized for their viscous texture, and some people trek through the woods in search of the very largest ones.

On this edition of BEGIN Japanology, our theme is potatoes, taros and yams. By exploring this wide variety of tubers, we will dig deep into a rich Japanese culinary tradition.