February 13, 2009

Subtle differences make a lunch

Other than muddy seats, we also brought this back from Ibitipoca.

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It's taioba. We've always had some confusion about this plant. There are a couple of species that look deceptively similar. Some you can eat the tuber which is called inhame and some you can't. Some you can eat the leaves and the tuber as in the taioba. And some you can't eat either. To our untrained eye, they all look alike, but the locals can tell at a glance which is which. Vicente tried to help us out by showing us how to recognize taioba.

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Apparently top of the leave has to be open all the way to the stem to be the edible taiboa variety. Unless the stem is purple. Then it's called taioba brava, or mean tiaoba, and then you can't eat it even if the heart shaped part of the leaf is totally open.

We also have jurassic version of this plant growing all over the place that looks like inhame with closed leaf tops but apparently it is yet another variety without purple stems that you can't eat either the tuber or the leaves.

It's all so confusing that we have never collected any of the leaves on our land and have only eaten taioba when it's been left it up to our organic delivery service to determine which is which. But Vicente assured us that this one was in fact the edible kind. (You'll know if he was messing with us if I die tomorrow and you never hear from me again.)

Anyway, I finally got around to looking up what these plants are. Taioba (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) is apparently called elephant's ear in English, although there are a lot of ornamental plants that get that name which aren't taioba. It's also called malanga by Puerto Ricans who apparently eat a lot of it.

And inhame (Colocasia esculenta) I was surprised to find out is actually taro! It is very common on a Brazilian menu. It's softer than a potato and very creamy - exceptionally yummy when made into a soup with bacon. But given how nauseating I found poi to be, I'm so glad I didn't previously know that inhame was taro or I never would have experimented with it.

Here's the lunch I made with my taioba-elephant ear-malanga leaves along side a cucumber yogurt salad and a spicy lentil pilaf.

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Delicious. Well worth the learning curve.

2 comments:

Daisy said...

I am loving your blog Robyn! It's the perfect mini moment of procrastination while I revise (and revise and revise) my grant proposal...
Wish I could pop over for some lunch. That looks delicious!

Love you guys. xoxo

lovelydharma said...

Oh I wish you could too! Miss you terribly! Glad to know I can be of help in the procrastination department!