Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Taro


The Irish are potato people. The Italians are pasta people. We Samoans, we're taro people.

Taro is one of the world's oldest cultivated crops, and Samoans eat it both in everyday meals and for larger feasts. Taro has a fibrous brown skin, but inside it has pink, white or purplish flesh. When it's cooked, it is invariably purplish-grey. Taro has a starchy texture, kind of gluey, when cooked.

And don't even think about eating it raw. It contains oxalic acid which can irritate your throat and mouth, and some people are so sensitive to oxalic acid that their hands get all itchy just touching taro. If you're one of these people, simply rub some oil on your hands when handling it, and this should help keep the taro rash away. In any case, oxalic acid is not deadly, just unpleasant.

So make sure you cook your taro thoroughly. Samoans commonly boil or roast/bake taro, and a few people (vendors mainly) fry them into chips. But it's a versatile root and if you want to get creative, you can steam it, ground it into a flour, or pound it into Hawaiian poi. The great thing about taro is that it holds it's texture and shape when cooked, and blends in well with other savoury flavours.

Health-wise, taro is highly nutritious and is perfect for people with digestive problems. It's got more protein, calcium and phosphorous than a potato, and is rich with vitamins B, C and E. It is so digestible that these days taro flour is often used in mass-produced infant foods, which is something Samoans have been doing for yonks already. Back in the day, Samoan women would chew on cooked taro to make little balls of food which they placed along the back of their hand. Then they'd feed these taro balls to their babies - the perfect first food!

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3 comments:

  1. I'm so excited about your blog! Taro is also naturally high in fluoride, and according to my son's immunologist at Duke University, it's one of the least allergenic foods. That's if you cook it right. hee, hee.

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  2. Hi Liv, thx for visiting my site and for the flouride info. Guess that explains why Samoans generally have good strong teeth.

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  3. I boil then I bite the taro piece then bite cheese it's my favorite food

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