Roasted until slightly crispy, these yucca fries are a fine side served with a pinch of salt and a zesty chimichurri sauce.
By Mariela Alvarez Toro
I was teaching at a graduate university, and part of the course required a week in Rio where we would collaborate with the local architecture studio, tour the city, and see the “site”. I survived on green soup, simple salads, fresh fruit juice, and acai. But, it wasn’t until I ate yucca fries that I fell in love with how Brazilians make the most out of the humblest of ingredients.
That night, as the sun set over our dinner table, I discovered yucca fries, my experience of Brazilian cooking was completely turned around. I forgot about the pork rice, the feijoada, the churrascarias, chicken hearts, and I fell in love with something that was delicious and nutritious out of both necessity and delight.
Yucca is one of those root vegetables I rarely ate as a kid even though it was a local, readily available ingredient. We would eat it boiled with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. I always enjoyed it, but guys, yucca tastes amazing when roasted in the oven until golden and crisp, tender and super starchy.
Chimichurri, though not traditionally Brazilian, elevates this humble dish from delicious to decadent. The tangy-spicy combination of cilantro, garlic, and chili flakes, cuts through yucca’s starchiness and makes for a rather refreshing, flavorful dish.Print
Recently graduated with from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She has recently completed "People in Food-Space", an ethnographic study on the cultural production of taste in space. She has also examined post-soviet food production systems and housing projects in Havana, Cuba. Originally from Puerto Rico, Mariela has been living in the United States for eight years. She has involved herself in both teaching and practice, while writing on food at tastyplan.com. Her goal as a food writer is to cook creatively, using the best ingredients to find new flavor combinations every day.