What is tapioca?

A STAFF REPORT FROM THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD

Dear Straight Dope:

What is tapioca?

Terey replies:

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.

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

STAFF REPORTS ARE WRITTEN BY THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD, CECIL'S ONLINE AUXILIARY. THOUGH THE SDSAB DOES ITS BEST, THESE COLUMNS ARE EDITED BY ED ZOTTI, NOT CECIL, SO ACCURACYWISE YOU'D BETTER KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED.

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