If it seems like we just celebrated today’s food holiday, you’re right: we did. Well, kind of. June 28 was National Tapioca Day. July 15, by contrast, is National Tapioca Pudding Day. Fine, they’re different holidays, but there’s a strange bit of deja vu because we honored the June 28 holiday with tapioca pudding. I know I said I write posts ahead of time, but that was a case where I didn’t write them far enough ahead of time to realize that Tapioca Pudding Day was right around the corner. What can I say, other than oops?
Tapioca pudding, similar to sago pudding (a Filipino dish made with sap from the sago palm tree), is a sweetened pudding made with tapioca and milk or cream. British schoolchildren call tapioca pudding “frog spawn” due to its appearance. I don’t know about you, but this makes me want to run out and devour a great big bowl!
Tapioca pudding was created in 1894 when Susan Stavers, a Boston housewife who ran a boarding house, took in a sick sailor who had returned from a journey with cassava roots. In an effort to make him feel better, she created a pudding using the roots, running the tapioca through a coffee grinder to give it a smoother consistency. The boarders raved over it, and Susan began grinding tapioca and selling it out of paper bags on a regular basis. Newspaper publisher John Whitman caught wind of Susan’s recipe and bought the rights to it, creating the MINUTE® Tapioca Company. General Foods bought them out in 1926, and tapioca pudding has been a popular dessert staple ever since.
This time, rather than settle for a cheap cup of tapioca pudding from the grocery store, we went to Sweet Tomatoes, a salad buffet restaurant that just happens to serve an excellent tapioca pudding. Which is exactly what it was: excellent!