Yuca with lemon and garlic

I was in my local grocery store recently picking up a couple of things. As I walked through the produce section, something caught my eye. A strange-looking thing. It was just sitting there, on one of those produce tables, looking weird. There was no tag or price affixed on or near this vegetable.


I asked a staff member nearby, a young man stocking the fresh herbs section. “Um…excuse me. What is this?” I held up the long tubular vegetable with a brown, gnarly looking skin.

Yuca with lemon and garlic

He peered at it. “Uh…I’m not really sure…” he said, embarrassed. “Wait…” he trailed off as he spotted the produce manager a few aisles over. Delicately plucking the object from my hand, he went to his supervisor. A brief discussion ensued, with more people joining in, occasionally throwing a quizzical glance in my direction. A lightbulb finally lit up over someone’s head and the produce guy came back to where I was standing, amused. “Yuca!” he announced proudly. “It must be new because I’ve never seen it here before…”

Yuca with lemon and garlic

I had suspected it was Yuca, also known as Cassava root. While I enjoyed this starchy vegetable immensely during my meal at Dona Carmela in Havana, I had never actually seen it in its whole form. Yuca is a staple food in many countries across the tropics, from Central/South America to Africa, and I was excited that my little grocery store in Halton Hills Ontario had decided to stock it.

Squeezing the lemon juice

After finishing the rest of my shopping, I headed to the checkout and stood absentmindedly by while the cashier rang up my purchases. I was interrupted from my reverie with an “Um…excuse me. What is this?”. Smiling at the familiar words, I told her it was Yuca. Spinning her little code roladex, she frowned, then picked up the phone to call the produce supervisor.

Yuca with lemon and garlic

Long story short, though they carry it at my local grocery store, no one there actually knew what it was. It was quite the comedy. Anyway, obtaining the Yuca inspired me to begin my quest for re-creating a fabulous meal I had in Cuba.

Yuca with lemon and garlic

More to come on that soon. Meanwhile, here’s the recipe for Cuban-style Yucca with Lemon and Garlic!


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Categories: Food

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3 Comments on “Yuca with lemon and garlic”

  1. March 17, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Sophie,I don’t know how you can remember that! It looks so yummy. Neil and I had to dig out a yucka like 4 ir 5 times and the root just kept coming and coming…I hated that plant! Too bad we didn’t eat it….I would have felt victorious for sure!


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