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I am such a sucker for anything claiming to be from New Zealand.  Is it possible to have a crush on a country?  Evidently…  It’s not just because I’ve been there.  Oh, no.  Why would a girl with an unstamped passport just pack her bags on a whim and head to New Zealand of all places?  Don’t most Americans tend to make Europe their first big trip?  I mean, I’ve never even been to Canada, let alone Mexico, which is probably about a 3 hour drive away.  New Zealand customs were suspicious!  And then, you’d think that since I’ve been there, I’d be satisfied, yet every day my thoughts are consumed with the place.

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I haven’t gone completely off my rocker, though.  The nearby snooty grocery store sells 24-packs of New Zealand water.  Seriously, folks.  I bought a bottle of water once in Auckland, and it was at an outdoor music festival where containers weren’t permitted through the entrance.  So, no, I haven’t been tempted by the imported water…yet. 

I was instantly taken with these potatoes, though.  I mean look at them! (Oddly beautiful and slightly…gross, no?)  They weren’t in season while I was there, so my first time seeing them was actually here at said grocery store well after my trip.  I finally decided to give them a try a few weeks later (now a month or so ago), and am glad I did!

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These are much different from sweet potatoes, which are called kumara in New Zealand (I ate lots there!).  The sign said they were oca potatoes, which I looked up when I got home.  They’re originally from South America (specifically the Andes), but are also grown in Europe, Mexico, Polynesia, and of course, New Zealand.  It sounds like you can prepare them in pretty much any way that you would other kinds of potatoes.  Some people even eat them raw!

Honey Roasted Yams
adapted from vegetables.co.nz

Since I had never had these before and didn’t know what they’d be/taste like, I went with a recipe.  This one looked super simple, and it was good! Next time, I might try them simply with some herbs and olive oil.  The flavors in this sauce were pretty prominent and I wasn’t sure whether I was tasting sauce or potato at times.  That said, it would also be good with other types of root veggies!

1/3 pound oca potatoes, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small baking dish, toss together all of the ingredients. Bake until tender, about 30-35 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

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These potatoes retained some crunch even after being roasted for over a half hour.  They were fun to try!

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