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National Tapioca Day

Tapioca, a starch extracted from cassava (Manihot esculenta), a root native to parts of South America and the West Indies, was brought to new lands by the Spanish and Portuguese and is now cultivated around the world, particularly in South and Central America, the West Indies, Africa, and India. Its name is derived from tipi'óka, the word for it in the South American Tupí language. We celebrate tapioca and its many forms and uses with National Tapioca Day!

Tapioca comes in numerous forms: flakes, sticks, flour, powder, meal, and pearls. Pearls, also known as balls or boba, are made when moist tapioca starch is pushed through a sieve. They can be dyed any color. Tapioca is almost entirely a carbohydrate and contains no fat or protein. It is high in calories and does not have much flavor on its own.

Tapioca is most associated with pudding. The pudding is made with small tapioca pearls, or with flakes, meal, or sticks. It is sweetened to enhance its flavor. But tapioca's uses don't stop there. Bubble tea is made with large tapioca pearls (usually brown, not white) and green or black tea. Other drinks like fruit slush, as well as hot drinks, can be made with tapioca. It can be used to make desserts like kolak and taho. It can even be used to make vegan cheese. Tapioca flakes and powders are used as thickening agents in sweet and savory dishes like ice cream, soup, stew, and gravy. Moisture and texture can be added to baked goods with tapioca, and the flour can be used to make gluten-free bread.

How to Observe National Tapioca Day

While you could celebrate by picking up some tapioca pudding from the store, there is so much more you could do. Make your own pudding, or try your hand at making bubble tea, kolak, or taho. Or maybe something less sweet is your style. In that case, you could make homemade bread with tapioca flour. No matter what you make or eat, just be sure it contains tapioca!

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