What exactly is tapioca?

Ok, so today, I was listening to the Glenn Beck program and he said that the word “tapioca” literaly translated into “fish eggs.” Is that what tapioca is?
On the little box for tapioca pudding under “ingredients” it’s quite uninformative. It lists ingredients “tapioca” :rolleyes:
So what the heck is tapioca?

Tapioca is simply a starch derived from the roots of the cassava plant. Not fish eggs, so don’t worry if you’re not too fond of sweet fish egg pudding.


I have no idea who Glenn Beck is, but someone ought to buy the man a dictionary. I think he may have been thinking of “caviar”…

Does nobody have a dictionary in their house these days, or what?

BTW the standard name for the plant from which it comes is “yuca” (Spanish) or “manioc” (English); “cassava” is the common English name for it but it really started as the Arawak Indian name for the food that they made out of it (a matzo-like product with the taste and texture of cardboard). The root is toxic raw, cooking/processing renders it safe.

Actually, tapioca is made from fish eyeballs.

(…Or so my wife had me convinced the first time I saw it. She even got the guy at the deli counter to go along with the gag at my expense. :smack: )

It seems dried tapioca comes in a few shapes, one of them being little globules (“pearl tapioca”). That might explain the mix-up with fish eggs.

Etymology of tapioca from dictionary.com:

Portuguese, from Tupi typióca : ty, juice + pyá, heart + oca, to remove

There are both “sweet” and “bitter” varieties. In the sweet variety the toxins are confined to the skin, and this must be peeled before use. In bitter varieties, the toxins are throughout, so these need extensive processing before use.

I’ve often wondered why people bother with the bitter variety, since it requires so much additional effort to process. The best I’ve been able to come up with is that the bitter may have a quicker and heavier yield. I’ve also seen reference that flour products made with the bitter variety will keep much longer.

More here

no, No, NO, It’s snake’s eyeballs! Haven’t you ever heard of “snake eyes and glue”?

We used to call tapioca pudding (the little beads of tapioca, boiled in milk) ‘frogspawn’ when it was served for school dinners.

Cassava is the main ingredient in most West African dishes, besides rice of course. We make Fufu or Dumboy which is eaten with stew, gravy, soup etc. The Cassava is soaked after the outside skin is peeled off. Then it is beaten down into a paste and then cooked. Its consistency is kinda like pizza dough uncooked. First time I realized what Tapioca pudding was made from was shocking. Cause it is almost a completely different taste from Fufu. Tapioca is much sweeter. Just an FYI. Thanks for letting me share. :slight_smile:

I wonder If we already grew Cassava or if it was brought to West Africa by the Europeans. I should google.

I don’t know. When I was a kid we all refered to it as “fish eyes in glue”.

It is native to the Americas, and was brought to Africa by Europeans.

Thank you. Makes me wonder what we ate with our version of soup before. Probably yams or pusawa rice.

[tangent]Tapioca flour is used quite a lot in gluten-free baking, because it has similar sticky, stringy properties to wheat gluten; a blend of rice, tapioca and defatted soya flours can actually make quite a reasonable substitute for wheat flour, even for breadmaking, which is usually disastrous with no gluten.