Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

tapioca an important product of cassava, and broadly speaking the only one which has a presence in western kitchens. Cassava flour is treated in such a way as to form what are called flakes, seeds, and pearls of tapioca. Pearl tapioca is best for making a tapioca pudding.

Cassava is an American plant, although the main producers are now in Asia and Africa. Ayto (1993) explains that the name tapioca comes from the Tupi-Guaraní languages of S. America, in which the word tipioca refers to the starch produced by processing the roots. Spaniards and Portuguese adapted this name to tapioca, in which form it became an adopted English word in the late 18th century.