The Polynesian staple par excellence
After the success of the Uru (breadfruit) festival organized in 2013, the « Maison de la Culture » (Cultural center of Tahiti) shall honor for another famous root crop. The Taro festival will take place from 9-11 October 2014, honoring its virtues.
The Taro is a tuber used in numerous civilizations as a staple food. In French Polynesia, it is part of the famous “ma’a Tahiti”; a traditional festive dinner including a variety of sweet and savoury dishes. The Taro is considered as “the king of root crops” in the Polynesian islands. It was introduced by the first navigators and it quickly became part of Polynesian history as an essential food staple. Nowadays, the Polynesian triangle counts up to 29 species of Taro. This vegetable is still one of the oldest agricultural products of the territory. The Taro is cultivated on brackish marshes, planted in small 30cm deep ditches because of its important needs for water and humidity.
The Taro plant has a large red-orange colored root and is characterized by long stems with large blue-green leaves. Like a lot of principal root crops, it is similar to the potato, poor in protein but very rich in starch. It can be boiled or fried but should be well peeled and washed before eating because its rough outer layer yields an irritating sap. At maturity, each root can measure about 20cm in circumference and weighs around 11Lbs.
During this first Taro festival, one will have the chance to appreciate the different recipes possible. Dishes of various forms are derived from it along with other unexpected uses. Many presentation stands will display a variety of uses and species. You will also enjoy the contest of the biggest Taro root of french Polynesia. You’ll be surprised to how they big they get.
Produce farmers and other experienced cooks will share with you their secrets of preparation with a few stories and legends about the famous Taro.