It is interesting that posts about roasted sweet potatoes, traditionally a cold-season food, should be popping up everywhere now that winter is officially over. I’m a great fan of sweet potatoes, and not just because of their high fiber content. I like their taste and texture. Too bad I don’t have hot stones over which to roast them and mostly use my microwave.
In Japan, roasted sweet potatoes also have a sound. They are sold from small trucks with fire-heated pebbles in the back, predominantly during the cold-weather season. The vendors chant (or play recordings of chants) about their roasted potatoes to attract customers – voilà, the sound of 焼き芋.
Avi Landau has a long post in Tsukublog about sweet potatoes in Japan. It will give you a good introduction. Back in 2002, Jeremy Hedley’s now dormant blog Antipixel had a great recording of a yaki-imo seller’s chant and I have borrowed the file. Click on the player below.
This wouldn’t be the era of mash-ups and remixes if there weren’t any number of “processed” yaki-imo chants available. I’d like to point you to two recordings which have, in my opinion, a great deal of atmosphere. One is the Electric Crow Funk of Tokyo from January 2010; the other the more recent 焼き芋-Cliff Richard mash-up in Momus’ blog Mrs Tsk*.