Try Cassava Bread For The Taste Of The Caribbean

By Judy Sullivan

Bread comes in many forms. The French have their baguettes; along the Mediterranean people eat pitas and in Mexico and Central America you’ll find wheat and corn tortillas. In the Caribbean, the staple usually comes in the form of ‘pan de casabe’, which is cassava bread.

Cassava is a plant that is native to the region of the Caribbean. It’s found in parts of South America too. It has many uses but the main one is to use its root as a source of food. The root is long and thin and covered in a brown skin that has a rough texture but the inside is a yellowy or white flesh that is very nutritious.

When the first European explorers came to the Caribbean, they found that people all over the region and as far away as Central and South America were eating ‘pan de casabe’ as a staple food. They took this foodstuff with them to the Iberian Peninsula and from there it spread across the world along with other New World foods like potatoes, tomatoes and corn. Today the root is a staple in regions like West Africa too.

There are many ways to eat ‘pan de casabe’. Some people go all out and cover it with cheese to make a pizza with a Caribbean flavor. It’s great to use as croutons to give substance to soups or crunch to salads and it goes very well with dips too. More traditional is to top it with eggs, avocado or beans and eat it like you would eat tortillas. You can also keep it simple by adding only a little bit of salt and a dash of olive oil.

Like most starches, the root is a great source of energy-giving carbohydrates. It’s a healthy choice too because it contains only small amounts of fat and sodium. At the same time it’s rich in Vitamin C as well as the minerals calcium and phosphorus.

To make ‘pan de casabe’ is quite easy. First you need to remove the skin and then grate the flesh. Next, you need to squeeze out the liquid from the pulp because this is actually poisonous.

You can now add salt to the pulp if you want. Take handfuls of pulp and shape them into patties. You may also use a mold that was designed specifically for this purpose. Heat a frying pan and, without adding oil, cook the patties until they’re golden on either side. As the flatbreads cool, they will become crispy.

Cassava bread is available online but is a little more difficult to find in local stores. Specialty stores may stock it and you’ll likely find it in neighborhoods with a large Dominican or Jamaican population. Another option is to simply take some time off, buy a ticket to the Caribbean and enjoy it right there on the beach.

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