Delicious and healthy, taste tapioca with me in Fortaleza (VIDEO)

If you are moving to Fortaleza or staying there for longer than a holiday, then you can find your way to a good quality of life starting from having long walks on the beach every morning and carrying on to discovering its local delicacies. One of the Fortaleza foods you can’t miss is the delicious and healthy tapioca. Boasting a wide range of health benefits and prepared with different flavors and ingredients, you can find tapioca pretty much everywhere in Fortaleza.

Delicious and healthy, taste tapioca with me in Fortaleza

My tapioca with banana, cheese, and cinnamon

But what is exactly a tapioca? Both an ingredient and a dish.

Fundamentally, it is a starch made out of the finest manioc (cassava) flour. Here it’s called “goma”, and it has a chewy texture that makes the grains stick together when cooked.

What does the dish we find in restaurants or buy from street vendors consist of? It’s either a thin layer of starch heated and slightly grilled on a pan and filled with many different ingredients of your choice, from meat to cheese to chocolate, or a thicker layer steamed and quickly grilled on which, again, you can add any topping you like. I’ve seen the first kind of tapioca mainly for dinner or a mid-morning, mid-day snack, while the second style is more used for breakfast, so the toppings normally lean towards a sweet taste (I like to add coconut milk or fruit jam).

While it’s possible (but not very frequent) to find it in all Brazilian states, tapioca is mainly Northeastern pride. In Ceara it is, and it’s always been all the rage.

According to locals, tapioca is the name taken from the native tupí-guaraní language of a dish belonging to the gastronomic tradition of indigenous tribes belonging to this linguistic group. Mainly inhabiting  Brazil’s eastern coast, still today they live according to their own culture, art, spirituality, language, costumes. Little by little, tapioca grew in popularity all over the North and the Northeast, up to being adopted as the main food of the slaves.

Still today, indigenous people produce the starch that, when cooked, forms a sort of pancake of neutral taste and highly nutritious. Replacing bread during meals, tapioca is possibly the most popular food here, so tapiocarias, or tapioca-places, are scattered everywhere both in Fortaleza and in all the other cities and towns around, each of them coming up with new tastes and tapioca-based products every day, both salty and sweet.

Delicious and healthy, taste tapioca with me in Fortaleza

Manioc, or cassava, root

What are the health benefits of the tapioca?

The health benefits of this root/flour/starch are so many that after you’ll have finished reading this you’ll be even more conscious of how Mother Earth really takes care of everything.

A true energy boost and source of Omega 3 and 6, cassava is rich in amino acids, fibers, minerals such as calcium, iron and phosphorus, vitamins C and of the B complex and potassium. Highly digestive and gluten-free, it’s ideal for people suffering from celiac disease. Last but not least, this root helps increase serotonin production.

Due to all these nutritional properties, manioc is recommended to people with digestion and gastrointestinal problems, to recovering patients and for babies. In Italy, it’s often an ingredient in baby foods. Now, if you tuck into tapioca filled with Nutella, please don’t blame it on me that it has given you an upset stomach and/or made you gain weight: tapioca is healthy, Nutella is not!

So now that we unveiled tapioca‘s benefits, join me at the Centro das Tapioqueiras, in Avenida Washington Soares 10125, the area the city of Fortaleza devoted to this super food. Here the young tapioqueira Vitoria, working at Luciana’s tapioqueira Recanto do Sertão, showed me how to make a traditional tapioca with a filling of banana, fresh cheese and condensed milk and a topping of banana and cinnamon: one of my favorites!

Brazil crime rate is notoriously high, so when traveling there you need to pay extra attention to some safety rules. To avoid getting mugged in Fortaleza and any other city in Brazil, instead of carrying a purse or visible wallet, wear loss- and pickpocket-proof travel clothes. They are made with secret and secure pockets where you can keep money or any small object you need to carry with you such as cash, mobile phone, credit card, house keys, etc.
Click here for more information on the types of safety clothes available and the latest prices.

 

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31 Comments
  1. Vraiment interessant! Les tapocas sont comme les crepes donc!
    Je sais par expérience qu’elles sont délicieuses!

  2. Noi siamo stati alla Tapoqueira di sera, solo per mangiare quelle delizie. Vale la pena andarci per vedere anche, come hai fatto tu!

  3. I really like Tapioca. Your post is making me want buy some and cook something like this: http://www.aayisrecipes.com/2006/07/07/tapiocasabudana-khichdi/ (I just googled to find a recipe closest to one I would normally do)

    • That’s not traditional Brazilian tapioca though. When Portuguese colonized Brazil they exported it to the other colonies, so now many countries have adapted it to their own tastes, such as India and African countries. As for me, I’ve always tried it the Brazilian way, but to be honest, I don’t think I would enjoy it in the form of pudding or soups. But I might try them anyway should I have the occasion.

  4. Never tried tapioca, other than as porridge. Fun video with lively, soulful music.

  5. I’m sorry, but I can honestly say I’m not a fan of tapioca. :(

    Cool that you got to see it get made though.

  6. There is nothing like the true tapioca of Fortaleza!

    My favorite is the tapioca of “carne de sol” with requeijão!!

    Hmmmmmm…. Delicious!!!

  7. Yum! Never had one, but looks mouthwatering!

  8. I think the best bit about travelling is trying local food, will definitely have to five Tapioca a go! Great video.

  9. I love tapioca! But damn you for making me crave it at this hour of the morning (8AM here). LOL

  10. This looks delicious. Never heard of the dish before.

  11. I am not even the biggest “dessert” person, but there is something about tapioca!!

    • But you know, this one is really not necessarily a dessert. Although there are some sweet ones I really liked, like this one with banana and cinnamon, there are many salty ones I would eat for lunch or dinner!

  12. I like tapioca with my bubble tea drinks (they’re just rolled into little balls and placed at the bottom of the drink). They add a new dimension to the tea. And even though they taste bland, they’re really good compliment. Interesting to see how they are made from scratch. Too much work for me.

  13. The tapioca with banana and cinnamon looks so yummy! I made one at home using my friend’s secret recipe and it was lovely. Best healthy snack ever. Are you a healthy eater at all? Any nice recipes to share :)?

  14. Here in Brazil, venders sell tapioca on the streets. It is prefered either sweatened or unsweatened with butter – usually for breakfast.

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