Very similar to potato or sweet potato, cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a tuber filled with starch and flavor that gives it a creamy texture or a touch crunchy to your recipes. Cassava is native to South America but its cultivation has spread to Asia and Africa. It is the third most important source of carbohydrates in the tropics after corn and rice.
Like potato it is versatile and lends itself to no end of recipes. This hardy plant was used by the Arawak Indians of South America and is a staple in the diet of the Garifuna Nation. The Garifuna name for Cassava is Ereba. It requires little care to cultivate and practically grows wild in Latin America where it is known as yuca.
Like many tubers, cassava requires treatment to make it edible. Boiling the tuber before using it in a dish gets rid of traces of toxins the plant contains that are part of its defensive mechanism against pests.
There are endless culinary possibilities provided by cassava. The main recommendation is to peel, wash and boil. Then you can fry, cook, bake or grill it. Cassava can be used to make bread, chips, soups or desserts of all kinds.
To make Cassava French Fries is very easy. Simply peel, wash, cut up and fry like you would a potato. The cassava is traditionally pounded in a heavy mortar but it is far easier to simply buy the cassava flour. This is readily available in Latin America and the Caribbean and in other countries at groceries that specialize in Caribbean or Latin American food. It is commonly labeled as Yuca, Manioc or Cassava.
Cassava bread in the Garifuna tradition is prepared on a a comal or metal pan over a fire hearth. It is unleavened and provides an easy bread to accompany any meal. It is usually served with fried fish and vegetables.