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Y is for Yucca Fries

Gaucho and Pizza Orgasmica serve up a plate of these yummy and crispy rectangular logs.

Time for Y? Yup. And I like fries with that — Brazilian fries made of yucca. 

Also known as cassava or manioc, yucca is a large, stachy root related to the agave family of plants. It's cultivated as a key food crop in the world’s tropical and sub-tropical regions. According to the Oxford Encylopedia of Food, both the roots and the stalks are eaten. The yucca is a valuable food plant that nourishes at least a third of the people on the planet.

 In San Rafael, I yield to my yearning for yucca at the on Lincoln Avenue, in the industrial area of San Rafael, or on Fourth St.  For $6 at both places, you get a plate piled high with crispy rectangular logs of yucca accompanied by a lemony aioli.

They look like —and at first, taste like— traditional potato-based French fries. When you bite into them, however, the texture is more custardy than potato and the taste is more vegetal, with a hint of fruit-like sweetness. Ask for an order of sauteed garlic tossed on top to pull up their exotic nature.

By the way, both these restaurants serve an intriguing range of Brazilian dishes. Accompany your yucca fries with garlicky fried chicken nuggets, feijoda (a black bean and meat stew served on weekends) or beef stroganoff, to name a few. Yucca, like potato, is at its most appetizing as a side dish with other foods.

 The Gaucho Restaurant, 767 Lincoln Ave., 457-4910, www.gauchorestaurantinmarin.com.

 Pizza Orgasmica, 812 Fourth St., 457-BEER, www.pizzaorgasmia.com.

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