Egyptian Sweet Potato Carts Serve Dessert On-The-Go

Could there be a root vegetable more delicious than the sweet potato? The culinary uses for this humble tuber seem to know no limits, with the spuds showing up in such wildly varied dishes as bacon-y sweet potato casserole, oven-baked sweet potato fries, and, of course, classic sweet potato pie.

Packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, according to Healthline, sweet potatoes boast cancer-fighting properties, boost gut health, and support a healthy immune system. And since the carbohydrates in sweet potatoes are complex as opposed to simple, they take longer to digest and can help you stay fuller, longer (via Prevention). 

In addition to their deliciousness, the potatoes' robust nutritional profile is no doubt a factor in their popularity all around the world. And though the trend has yet to catch on in the United States, many cultures enjoy their sweet potatoes not just in a restaurant or at home, but to-go, in the form of roasted sweet potatoes sold on the street for a snack or dessert.

An old-school treat that's still popular today

If you've ever wandered the streets of Cairo, Egypt, according to Culture Trip, you've most likely encountered batata, the coal-roasted sweet potatoes made and sold from small wooden carts (via Egyptian Independent). With a basic cost of around 5 Egyptian pounds (about 20 cents), the warm, sweet snack of a roasted sweet potato can, these days, also be adorned with chocolate and caramel sauces, nuts, and even ice cream, per Culture Trip.

As it turns out, several other cultures also sell roasted sweet potatoes on the street. In Mexico, camote carts vend both coal-roasted sweet potatoes and plantains, typically at night; As vendors rove the streets, the nearing of their offerings can be noted with a loud, piercing steam whistle (via Out Adventures). Offered plain or with toppings of sweetened condensed milk, strawberry jam, or rainbow sprinkles, the roasted potatoes are very likely among Mexico's oldest street food traditions.

If you're out and about in a Japanese city, you might run into roasted sweet potatoes, as well. According to Live Japan, the Japanese enjoy a hot street sweet potato (a... street potato?), in this case yakiimo, sold by weight and traditionally roasted over hot stones. Since the Japanese sweet potatoes are harvested in autumn, writes Chopstick Chronicles, the trucks are at their most active in winter, when sellers want to offload the sweet produce — and when chilly inhabitants are most likely to crave a hot, steamy treat.