[Sca-cooks] groundnuts, continued - horchata

devra at aol.com devra at aol.com
Wed Oct 10 07:59:14 PDT 2007

Since we had that interesting discussion about peanuts versus groundnuts, I thought people might like this information, copied from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's latest pamphlet, Buried Treasures: Tasty Tubers of the World.

Apios?americana, also called potato bean, groundnut, or Indian potato

The groundnut is native throughout a wide?expanse of ?North America, from New Brunswick west to Colorado and south to Texas and Florida. Native Americans throughout this range valued this versatile plant. The edible roots can be found just beneath the surface of the soil, tightly clustered below the stem?or in chains - sausage-link style - on long slender roots. The Cherokee used the roots like potatoes. The Delaware and Mohegan peoples dried the tubers and ground them into flour for bread and cakes. Wisconsin's Menominee tribe sugared the tubers with maple syrup. The Pawnee, Omaha, and Winnebago clans ate the tubers roasted or boiled. Many groups harvested, peeled, sliced, and dried the tubers for winter use. Native Americans shared their knowledge of this useful wild edible with early Europeans, helping the Pilgrims to survive their first winter in America. The groundnut may have been introduced into Europe as early as 1597 and was reportedly an important forage food during the Civil War.
However, they also give another entry:

Cyperus esculentus, also called nutsedge, earth almond, tiger nut, chufa (Portuguese and Spanish)

Nutsedge has a long history of cultivation beginning 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. From there?it made its way throughout the Middle East. In the Middle Ages, the Moors introduced nutsedge into Spain, and from there it was introduced to West Africa, India, and Brazil. The Constanoan, Paiute, Pomo, and Kashaya peoples of coastal areas of California and Oregon ate the almond-flavored tubers both raw and cooked. Though considered a native plant in North America, it has spread to regions outside its original range, and in many areas it has become an agricultural weed.? This grasslike?plant bears slender, tapering foliage and yellow to brown, spikelike flower parts.... The most famous preparation ...is the Spanish beverage? horchata de chufa. It is made by soaking the crushed tubers in water, straining out the solids, and adding cinnamon, sugar,?vanilla, and crushed ice. In some areas people roast the tubers, then grind them and use them as a caffeine-free coffee substitute.?

So probably what we were talking about isn't the groundnut, but the nutsedge...

Devra the confused?
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