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.
[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?
[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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