The sweet potato is native to Mexico and was cultivated from early pre-Colombian times.
It grows well in poor soil with little water. According to Diana Kennedy, to achieve the best flavor, one must take the newly dug up potato (do not wash the dirt off) and leave it sitting in the sun for a 3 to 5 days. This intensifies the natural sugars. Camotes are used in soups and stews, baked and eaten whole, boiled and mashed with other ingredients and reduced to a paste with sugar for a sweet dessert.
The sweet potato ranks highest in nutritional value of any vegetable around. It has 6 grams of fiber, 160 calories (of course that does not include all the melted butter!) and is full of potassium, vitamin A and C.
There are many varieties but the most common are those with either an orange or white flesh. I love a good sweet potato and I just love the markets.