Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Wednesday October 10, 2012

Today's blog will concern itself with a lesson on one of the world’s most important starches.  Manioca root (also known as cassava), from which tapioca comes, grows like a weed here in the Amazon.  People attach small wagons to the back of their motorcycles, drive out into the jungle, dig it up and sell it in the markets.  I suppose it is grown on plantations too though I havent seen any.  The thing about manioca is that a single root contains enough hydrogen cyanide to kill a human being.  Ten times actually.  A dose of 40 mg of raw roots will kill a cow!  I’m glad I know that because I have made a habit out of buying the various fruits and vegetables that I don’t recognize and eating them... RAW! To prepare manioca, the locals boil them and grind them in large cast iron hand-cranked grinders available in the stores here.  Then they take the soggy "masa" and put it in a long woven tube they call a "tipiti" which is tied to a tree limb and when it is pulled and twisted, the water is squeezed out.  The resulting liquid is collected and dried, leaving a dry powder similar to corn starch. Pearl tapioca, like we have in the stores back home, is made by forcing the damp starchy masa through a sieve under high pressure and then drying the "pearls" in the sun. I happen to really like tapioca!
I had manioca today for lunch.  It tasted similar to potatoes but was fairly bland and colourless. Manioca, in this form is used all over the world as a major source of carbohydrates, none of which I need!