Dasheen is among a family of root crops or “ground provisions” grown on the islands of the English-speaking Caribbean, dating back to the early 16th century. Also known as taro, blue food and kalo, historians say that the crop arrived to the Caribbean aboard Trans-Atlantic slave ships, along with African food culture and agro-ecological knowledge.
Stories are told of African slaves foraging for the large, elephant ear leaves of the dasheen plant to make a stew called callaloo or in cassava fufu, a popular West African staple. Steeped in the trials of a colonial past, dasheen is one of a handful of crops that made their way into diets as a product of resourcefulness and making do with little.
Given its historical roots, the starchy tuber has not traditionally been associated with fine dining. Nor has it typically received any degree of noteworthy acclaim, despite its influence on local culture, and substantive nutritional, environmental and economic value.