Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tasty Travels: Mantioca

I just returned from a vacation in Brazil, my first ever trip to South America. Stay tuned for various highlights about the interesting foods I tried in my travels. Up first: Mantioca. (man-tee-oak-ah)

Mantioca is a root vegetable commonly eaten in Brazil. I'd never heard of it before, but it turns out I'd just never heard this name before. Mantioca also goes by several other names including Manioc, Yuca, and Cassava. And I've actually eaten it several times before... Yuca fries at Pollo Tropical (a chain common in Florida where I'm from), Yuca baked with garlic and lemon at a Cuban themed dinner party, and Tapioca pudding - yes, Tapioca! - it's derived from the Cassava root. And according to Wikipedia, Cassava is the third largest source of carbohydrates for meals in the world.

On this trip I ate Mantioca several times, in two main ways, sometimes both in the same meal:

1.) Mantioca Fries. Deep fried and lightly salted. They are starchier and thicker than french fries and incredibly satisfying. I had these at least 4 times throughout the trip including several restaurants, buffets, and the home-made fries below:

2.) Farofa (Toasted Manioc Flour). Similar in texture to panko bread crumbs, farofa is served along with Feijoada (fay-joe-ah-da), the national dish of Brazil. Feijoada is a bean stew, usually loaded with meat (but not on my plate!). It is traditionally served with a garnish of chopped collard greens, Farofa for texture, and Orange Slices. Careful though, sometimes Farofa is prepared with bacon grease. Pictured below, a sprinkling of farofa over my friend's traditional (meaty) Feijoada plate.

For a taste of Brazil at home, check out this recipe for Vegan Feijoada courtesey of Vegetarian times:

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