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3 Young Chefs at Cooking School

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Name these plants:

1) Originating in Southeast Asia and India, cultivated for 5000 years, this member of the cashew family can range in size from a plum to 5 pounds. It is one of the most popular fruits in the world, but was originally a small, fibrous, acrid, sometimes toxic fruit that tasted of turpentine.

2) I am native to all continents except Australia. Of my 450 varieties, many are used for food. According to Greek legend, I was the staple food of the Golden Age, although now I am mostly fed to animals. I was used as a rather inferior coffee substitute during the American Civil War, and I can be used to make a good flour.

3) This plant is an herb that most likely originated in and around Malaysia some 4,000 years ago. It spread and developed many varieties over a wide area from India to the Philippines and New Guinea. About 2000 years ago travelers carried it eastward through the Pacific and westward across the Indian Ocean to tropical Africa.

Various sacred texts of Oriental cultures mention it. There are references to it in the Hindu Mahabharata and the Ramayana of the poet Valmiki. Buddhist writings mention a beverage made from it that Buddhist monks were allowed to drink, and Yang Fu, a Chinese official of the 2nd century A.D., describes it in his ‘Encyclopedia of Rare Things’.

Theophrastus, who wrote one of the first scientific botanical works describes this plant in the 4th century B.C. Alexander the Great saw it growing in the Indus Valley in 327 B.C. and Pliny the Elder describes it in 77 A.D. The Arabs introduced it to Egypt, and it made its way westward across the African continent.

The Portuguese found it on Africa's Atlantic coast in the 15th century, and Prince Henry the Navigator had some transplanted to the Portuguese island of Madeira, where they still flourish.

In 1516 Friar Tomas de Berlanga planted it in the islands of the Caribbean. It made the trip to Britain from Bermuda in 1633, and the Portuguese also introduced it to France, and it became common in the 18th century.

Its' present name probably comes from one of the languages of the Congo area. Today it is even grown in Iceland as a commercial crop, and world production is spread out in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres. There seems to be some disagreement as to which is the world's largest producer, either Brazil or Uganda. India follows, growing somewhat less than half of Brazil's crop. The Philippines, Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, Tanzania, Rwanda, Indonesia, Thailand, Cote d'voire and Vietnam are also important producers.

It grows best in temperatures from 50 to 105 degrees F, and requires 100-200 inches of annual rainfall. In some areas its sprouts are covered and allowed to grow without sunlight so they mature into thick, long spikes that resemble large white asparagus. It's sap causes extremely serious stains that are very hard to remove from both hands and clothes!




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