Saturday, October 29, 2005


Where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain!

(I have NO idea why I thought of that lyric when I started typing this aside from the fact that both Oklahoma and tapioca have four syllables and end with a, but there it is)

Wednesday after lunch RF and I went to the Tropioca Tea & Coffee Bar so I could be introduced to bubble tea, which is something he talks about getting with some regularity. Bubble tea was described to me as being tea with tapioca in it. Sounds a little strange, but now that I am living in the big city, perhaps it is time for me to get over my provincial world view and try some new things. Besides, it is tapioca and I am a big fan of tapioca pudding (leave it alone). I was imagining tea with the little bits o’ tapioca that are usually found in pudding, however when we finally got our bubble teas (large jasmine, sweet, with milk and tapioca, I think) I found that the bottom of my glass was infested with .38 slugs of tapioca. This illustrated to me that I really did not know anything about tapioca. I always thought tapioca was some sort of seed or fruit, but confronted with the singularities of tapioca bobbling around in the bottom of my tea, I began to suspect my hypothesis on the origins of tapioca might be wrong. Apparently it was time to consult with the Trash Heap of the Internet, Wikipedia.

According to Madame Trash Heap, “Tapioca is an essentially flavorless starchy ingredient, or fecula, produced from treated and dried cassava (manioc) root.” Huh? About all I was able to get from this is that tapioca was basically a flour made from some root. I mean at least it wasn’t something truly disgusting like roe or rocky mountain oysters, but still this definition did not manage to encompass the tapioca I had come to know and love from the eponymous pudding, and what the heck is a fecula? When I first read this word I thought, “Count Fecula, ha, ha, haaa!” You know, the not too well known Gen-X cousin of everyone’s favorite Wallachian (and I’m not talking about Dr. Frank-N-Furter.)

Sorry, got a little sidetracked there for a moment, back to discovering what the heck a fecula is. Again Madame Trash Heap yields her secrets and teaches us that, “A Fecula is a flavourless (Hey! Who let the English edit this?!?) starchy ingredient, amylaceous and pulverised (Sneaky Brits! That’s twice!), extracted from vegetables like tubers, rhizomes, seeds used for cooking as a food thickener.(And don’t come back until you learn how to spell!)” And here I thought we used food as people thickener. The very brief article goes on to list various examples of a fecula such as arrowroot (huh?), cornstarch (hey, I know what that is!), potato starch (ohhhh, what a waste of perfectly good potential vodka), Maizena, the industrial fecula (it likes Ministry), Sago (it’s pithy), tapioca (well, duh), and toloman fecula (oh, yeah, THAT one.)

Corn starch was the only helpful entry in there and it looks like my initial guess at what a fecula is was correct. So now we all know that tapioca is a flour-like substance often used as a food thickener. Who knew the Opiate could be educational as well as entertaining?

Oh yeah, and as for the bubble tea itself? All in all I enjoyed the tea, although I don’t know if jasmine is really my flavor, it was kinda of flowery and perfume-y like an IPA, so next time I will have to try something else.


Anonymous said...

Dude, I saw that stuff -- when I was in WallaWallaWashington, Jeff had a glass of it at the sushi place we visited.

It looked disturbing, to say the least. And although I'm a huge fan of tea paraphanalia, I dislike tea despite my best efforts to the contrary and didn't try it.

Not even globs of unidentifiable goo can fix tea, my friend.


James said...

Aw, now I freakin' love me some green tea! Particularly when I am getting sick.

Have you ever tried chai? It is this combination of tea, spices, and milk that is scrumdiddlyuptious. Next time you're in a tea environment (or Starbucks) try it. Trust me on this one.

Anonymous said...

I have tried almost every type of tea known to man.

It all tastes like boiled grass to me.

If I'm gonna add milk and spices to summat, it might as well be chocolate. I'm not brave enough to order tea and have it be icky.

You just watch. Imma have an absolutely beautiful tea set, and I'll make hot cocoa in it. ^^

~No whammies, no whammies...