edible aroids


     regarding this recent trend on edible aroids, i would like to offer
     the following observations.
    
     1) regarding bac ha, neil wrote:
    
     "I can't shed much light on bac ha but I do know of a chinese green
     vegetable called bok choi - I guess the bac/bok part may be a standard
     prefix for leafy greens. "
    
     i doubt that is accurate.  i don't speak vietnamese (bac ha) nor
     cantonese (bok choy) but in taiwanese, peh-tsai ("white vegetable")
     denotes nappa cabbage and is a widespread term that in other chinese
     dialects is applied to other leafy vegetables, including the one that
     we call bok choy, (i suspect "bok" is cantonese for white). 
     incidentally, "tsai" (taiw.) or "choy" (cant.) not only designates
     leafy vegetables but also is used to mean "dish", as in, "we should
     order two dishes for dinner tonight."
    
     2) regarding the long dormancy of taro corms, i wouldn't be surprised
     about the longevity of plant matter and its ability to
     "ressuscitate".  there was a magnolia seed that was found in an
     excavation in japan that was dated to be at least 2,000 years old. 
     the seed sprouted and after it bloomed, the plant was identified to
     be an extinct magnolia that existed thousands of years ago!  so why
     not for corms?
    
     3) growing up in brazil of taiwanese parents who were culturally
     japanese (because of japanese colonization of taiwan - reinforced by
     the fact that we lived in the japanese section of sao paulo), we ate
     a lot of japanese foodstuff, including "konyakku" which i understand
     comes from the corms of amorphophallus konjac.  konyakku is a bland,
     somewhat translucent, starchy, firm paste (much firmer than jello),
     that is sliced and sauteed with other vegetables in a curry sauce,
     for example.  it doesn't taste half bad.
    
     4) here in new york's chinatown, some vegetarian restaurants serve
     dishes made of "yams", including translucent noodles.  i suspect that
     the yams used are not the true yams (dioscoraea) nor sweet potatoes
     (ipomoea), but an aroid, possibly amorphophallus.  would anyone know
     for sure?
    
     5) eduardo, i never heard of tapioba (xanthosoma) while in growing up
     in brazil.  maybe one day, you can send us some? :-)
    
    
     tsuh yang chen, new york city


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