Why in the world am I writing about this strange-looking root crop? I don't know. It's just that when I bent down yesterday at my 'spice basket' to get some garlic for my neighbor, I saw a camote with my onions, ginger and other spices in my kitchen with young green leaves growing from it. So I took a cam and snapped a pic of it. It is a testimony that I have not been cooking for the last two months or so. I was busy (kano!:) Anyway, I thought I'd let the leaves grow more (inggana mabalin to nga masida diyay uggot na, hehehe) so I put it in my flower basket. Yun na!
Camote has many varieties, at least I know of some ten by name, maybe more if I see the leaves, but I only have 3 or 4 favorites. We Kalanguyas call them manila (deep yellow variety), bitnakan (red skin but white flesh and a deep white in the center) and very sweet, gihhey (this is the variety that can be kept for weeks so that when you cook it, the flesh is very mushy but very sugary), and the last one is the tinappay, which doe snot really taste as good as the first three than I mentioned. I only like it because of its color. It has a deep maroon skin, white outer flesh and layers of purple and pink in the middle.
What can you do with a camote? For us Kalanguyas, there are four ways to cook it: 1) Kaioggan, 2) Kailo-mog, 3) Kaitabak, 4) Kaidamdam, 5) Camote Q:). The usual is to peel it and boil it (Kaioggan!). Do not put too much water or else you will lose its nice texture. It will become too mushy and bland to the taste. You can also boil it without peeling it first (Kailo-mog!). When we were little, we use to put big camotes in a boiling couldron when we cook pig food i.e. the gabi. Somehow, something about the gabi reacts with the camote that results to a funny taste and smell in the camote; a strange but nice taste to the camote (Kaitabak). You can also grill it. We used to do this too in grade school, when we escape from our classes to go skinny dipping in a river nearby. Lastly, you can peel the camote, cut it up in regular pieces, deep fry, tuhugin ng kawayan :). (You can make a syrup too and dip the fried camote in the syrup kung gusto mo ng matamis.)
Camote is fibrous, it is therefore a good laxative. (That's why people call it a 'bomb.' :) So be advised not to eat camote if you're goin' on a date. :)