A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

What is tapioca?

Dear Straight Dope:

What is tapioca?

Wow, do people even know how to open a dictionary anymore? Oh, well, gives me something to do, I guess.

tap*i*o*ca (noun)

[Spanish & Portuguese, from Tupi tipioka]

First appeared 1707

1 : a usu. granular preparation of cassava starch used esp. in puddings and as a thickening in liquid food; also : a dish (as pudding) containing tapioca

2 : CASSAVA

What's "cassava," you ask?

cas*sa*va (noun)

[Spanish cazabe cassava bread, from Taino cacabi]

First appeared 1555

: any of several plants (genus Manihot and esp. M. esculenta) of the spurge family grown in the tropics for their fleshy edible rootstocks which yield a nutritious starch; also : the rootstock

So, it's starchy stuff used to make pudding that looks like fish eyes floating in pus.

Incidentally, this took me about 5 minutes to find out. But, hey, that's why I make the big bucks.

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