Tapioca comes from the yuca root, the same plant whose leaves produce cyanide. There is no need to worry. Cooking, or processing the yuca into tapioca, makes it delicious and poison-free.
June 28 is National Tapioca Day. Do not confuse National Tapioca Day with National Tapioca Pudding Day that is celebrated on July 15. However, since tapioca pudding is so convenient to make, you can still eat it on June 28 and again on July 15.
We are encouraged to learn about tapioca and become aware of its potential on June 28 to be ready to celebrate it more fully on July 15. Commercially, the starch is processed into several forms: hot soluble powder, meal, pre-cooked fine/coarse flakes, rectangular sticks, and spherical "pearls." Pearls are the most widely available shape; sizes range from about 1 mm to 8 mm in diameter, with 2–3 mm being the most common.
Processed tapioca is usually white, but sticks and pearls may be colored. Since old times, the most common color applied to tapioca has been brown, but recently pastel colors have been available. Tapioca pearls are generally opaque when raw, but become translucent when cooked in boiling water.
While frequently associated with tapioca pudding, a dessert in the United States, tapioca is also used in other courses. Bubble tea, made with tapioca pearls, is gaining popularity throughout the world. Tapioca is a thickening agent, mainly in foods. People on gluten-free diets can eat bread made with tapioca flour. Tapioca is almost completely protein-free.
On National Tapioca Day as well on on National Tapioca Pudding Day, serve tapioca as a pudding or turn it into a special drink. Use this day to experiment and have some food fun with tapioca. You can buy packages of tapioca pudding from your grocery store and make a delicious dessert for your family. By the way, tapioca pudding in the box is very inexpensive.