These roots of a sunflower variety, also known as Jeruselem Artichoke, look a lot like ginger root. There are different schools of thought on the origin of the name Jeruselem artichoke, which is not from Jeruselem. I believe the one that says someone misunderstood the Italian word "girasole" which means sunflower.
The sunchoke is as versatile as the potato, which is a very close friend. They both enjoy long, romantic roasts in a hot oven, swimming in a pot of boiling water and frolicking about in a pan of olive oil. The sunchoke is also edible raw. Yes, that's right, sunchokes add a deliciously nutty crunch when shaved into a cool, refreshing salad.
These are roots, so you'll need to scrub the mud out of the crevices (just soak them a while if they are really dirty), but the skin is thin enough that peeling isn't necessary, and in my opnion, definitely more work than it's worth. To roast, just chop roughly into bite sized-chunks. If you are roasting them with potatoes or other root veggies (like daikons, perhaps), cut similar sizes so they roast evenly. For sunchoke chips, use the slicer on your food processor and saute until crispy in 1/4 inch of olive oil over medium high heat.