Cassava is wonderful food, but often misunderstood due to its rather primitive look. It’s hard to believe that tapioca is made of this offensive looking root.

It’s unlikely to become popular soon. People want food with a dash of swag in it. You can’t swag eating cassavas. That’s a big nope. But the glorious Manihot esculenta, I believe, will one day rule the world. It will sit next to our Starbucks, Illy, or grandma’s homemade coffee.

Despite the appearance, cassava is versatile and delicious. In this country, Javanese gethuk (or getuk in Indonesian spelling) has raised the prestige of what’s been deemed as villagers’ food.

Getuk is made of ground cassavas, and there are many kinds of them. Getuk lindri (pictured above) is among the most popular getuks known on the land. There’s a step by step instruction on how to make it on Flickr, if you’re interested. But wait… I have to warn you that the root is *probably* toxic since it contains cyanide. Yep.

I think I can now declare to the world that we’ve tasted cyanide many times and survived. You have no idea how it feels to find something you’ve eaten for a really long time is proven toxic, or has caused death. I think of how bad-asses we are that the toxin doesn’t seem to affect us a bit.

getuk keju.jpg
Getuk keju “getuk with cheese” (Image: GetukTrioBorobudur)

Because you know, most of the time, we just eat what our parents ate what our grandparents ate what our great-grandparents ate… there’s no question about safety. If it was safe for them, it’s safe for us too. We only research that which is foreign to us. Ah, not really, we just eat and see what happen next. Heh heh.

I’ve never had a problem eating cassava (at home or warung), but a friend of mine once experienced mild toxicity symptoms from eating raw cassava. He was climbing the mountain at the time and felt hungry. And that was all he could get.

I guess it was because he didn’t properly wash the root and that it was still raw. He did roast it above the campfire, but it was half-cooked when he ate it. There’s also a chance that it was due to bad karma, considering he stole the cassava from someone’s field.

We do not only eat the roots of the plant, but also its leaves. We cook them in coconut milk and eat it as sayur, or stir-fry them. According to the information in the above link about toxicity, cassava leaves should never be eaten, so please, consult to your shaman before touching them.

I may need to add that we usually boil the leaves in water with a pinch of salt in it before cooking them, especially for stir fries. Another thing, we pick young leaves over the old ones. By young leaves, I don’t mean the youngest, baby, leaves. Slightly older than that.

Whole roots of cassava can be fried, steamed, or boiled. It can also be grated, or mashed. You can also slice them and turn them into crispy keripik singkong chips. You can turn them into any kinds of meals. Sky’s the limit.

Main Image Credit: EnsiklopediaIndonesia