The Produce Quiz – What Am I?

Like the onion, I have been around for so long (9000 years at least) that my mother, the original wild plant is gone. I have learned to adapt to many different growing conditions in the same way that I have learned to respond to many different names. From my immature leaves and shoots to my white, cream-colored or purple-gray flesh, most of me can be consumed. My prolific cultivation and harvest easily explain my use as a staple food throughout one third of this planet. Just to show off, we proved we could yield over 1,000 bushels on one acre of rich damp soil in just two years! That ought to leave a challenge for the rabbits. Although I have over 100 siblings and appear in shapes from oblong to round, we all come with thick brownish ringed skin that is rugged and hairy. I do require caution as I contain toxic crystals of calcium oxalate, a sticky juice, just beneath my skin that can produce an allergic reaction if direct contact is made. A simple solution is to use gloves or running water when peeling my skin. You will have to put on the heat to consume me as my leaves and roots contain an indigestible starch that is neutralized when cooked. I have a high starch content, a sweet taste often considered to have an artichoke-chestnut flavor, and can be used in the same way as a potato. I have been boiled and ground and fermented into poi, sliced, dried, and smoked as a traveling food, and wrapped in banana leaves when cooked in an umu pit. My leaves can be pureed, mixed with minced onion and coconut milk for umukai. I am rich in thiamin, Vitamin C and Potassium. Low in protein but rich in starch I am easily digested.

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Produce Quiz courtesy of
Richard Liebowitz
Culinary Specialty Produce

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