When I was a kid we always had what we called muskmelon. Now that same melon is called canteloupe. I wondered if there was a difference so I googled it. I’m more confused than ever now. One website states that what we eat in the US is muskmelon and that a true canteloupe would be hard to find in the US. Another website says that all cantaloupes are muskmelons but not all muskmelons are cantaloupes. (putting an S at the end of canteloupe doesn’t look correct to me!) One website describes what I eat as a cantaloupe but another describes them as looking different. And vice versa with a muskmelon.
IME, working in produce my entire life, they are two different, but similar fruit. However, some people do use the terms interchangeably. Notably, people referring to all of them as muskmelon or sugar melon.
I don’t know if it’s a regional thing or people that just aren’t aware of the difference, like yams and sweet potatoes. Luckily, if someone is looking for musk melon and I point to the cantaloupe, it’s typically what they want. However, if someone is looking for yams and I point to the sweet potatoes, with a sign that says ‘sweet potatoes’, often they get confused and won’t buy them. A lot of times we put both names on the sign and the boxes they come in often have both names on them as well.
So, someone asks for a yam, you point them to something that is clearly not a yam, and is bearing a label that says that it’s not a yam, and when they don’t want to buy it, that’s a sign that they’re confused?
[FFS, these server errors are becoming a real PITA]
Anyway, the conversation is more along the lines of:
Customer: Do you have yams?
Me: We have sweet potatoes, they’re right here.
Customer: My recipe says yams, is there a difference?
Customer: Hmmm, they look the same as what we always get…I’m not sure now. So they’re the same thing.
Customer: I’ll have to ask wife/husband/kid/parent. [leaves]
In the 30 years I’ve been doing this (and the 120 years my family has), I’m fairly confident the overwhelming majority of people asking for yams, actually want sweet potatoes.
While I generally agree, I do occasionally cook tagines that are supposed to be made with true yams. That said, if I cannot find yams I will substitute with several varieties of potatoes, sometimes including a sweet potato.
And speaking of sweet potatoes, we’ve been eating them way more often lately. Baked sweet potato, mmmmm.
What Americans call yams actually are sweet potatoes. We use the term yam to mean the darker colored sweet potatoes (of which one type is called garnet sweet potatoes). We don’t see true African yams here. Maybe JoeyP could explain it better to customers if they’re still confused.
That is correct, although at my local grocery, they do sometimes have actual yams in the section that carries various tubers (like cassava/yuca, jicama, and the like.) It’s not a fancy grocery or anything, but it does carry some Afro-Carribean foodstuffs in addition to the more usual Mexican and American offerings.
Judging by the pictures all I’ve ever eaten are canteloupes. I’ve never seen a melon that looked like that muskmelon.
However, we were on a trip when I was a kid, and we had stopped at a park in Needles to eat a meal. There was family from Oklahoma at a nearby picnic table, who came over to ask if we wanted some of their muskmelons (any fresh fruit crossing from CA to AZ would be confiscated at the border). I was amazed that we were going to get some new weird fruit…but it was just canteloupes. That looked just like all the canteloupes I’d ever eaten.