urucum, vinagreira, and the pinhão. Foods that are native to the Americas are one of the three cultural cornerstones of all of Brazilian alimentary history along with foods from Africa and foods brought to Brazil by the Portuguese and other European settlers.
Current scientific research into native American food plants seems to indicate that the oldest food - that is, the food with the longest history of cultivation - currently to be found on Brazilian plates is a root vegetable variously called mandioquinha, batata-boroa, or batata-aipo. There really isn't a name in English for this root, so the Spanish term arracacha is often used in English-language texts. The mandioquinha plant was first cultivated in the highlands of the Andes Mountains and was introduced into the lower elevations of Brazil through native American trade routes. It is currently cultivated in a number of regions in Brazil.
In the next post on Flavors of Brazil, I'll provide an award-winning recipe for a contemporary fusion-cuisine uptake on the mandioquinha.