A starchy substance extracted from the root of the cassava
plant. It's available in several forms including granules,
flakes, pellets flour or starch. The most widely available
forms are tapioca flour (also called cassava flour )
and pearl tapioca. The flour is used as a thickening
agent for soups, fruit fillings, glazes, etc. Pearl
tapioca is used mainly to make pudding and comes in
several sizes, regular or instant forms and in a variety
of prepackaged flavors. Pearl tapioca is available in
most supermarkets, whereas the other forms are more
commonly found in health-food stores and markets.
This native dish is definitely an acquired taste. It's
made from cooked taro root that is pounded to a smooth
paste, then mixed with water, the amount depending on
how the poi is to be served. Since poi is eaten with
the fingers, its consistency is measured accordingly
and ranges from "one-finger" (the thickest) to "three-finger"
(the thinnest). Poi is generally fermented for several
days, which gives it a sour, acidic taste. It can be
eaten by itself, mixed with milk to make a porridge
or served as a condiment for meat and fish.
A starchy, potatolike tuber with a brown, fibrous skin
and gray-white flesh. Taro is grown in tropical areas
and is an important starchy food in the island. Taro
roots range in length from about 5 inches to a foot
or more, and can be several inches wide. Though acrid-tasting
in its raw state, the root has a somewhat nutlike flavor
when cooked. It's also extremely easy to digest. It
should be noted, however, that some varieties are highly
toxic unless thoroughly cooked. The taro root has large
edible leaves (called callaloo in the Caribbean) which
can be prepared and eaten like mustard or turnip greens.
Taro root can be found in ethnic markets and some
specialty produce stores. The root may be prepared in
a variety of ways including boiling, frying and baking.