On our last day in the GIlis we took a chimodo (horse carriage) ride around the the island, stopping at beaches and gawking at local life. We went by the school where there was an amazing amount of cuteness, then past the clinic where there was an amazing lack of clinic-ness, then past a “tapioca” field. What’s that growing? we asked, Tapioca, our chatty/odd/cowboy hat-ed driver replied. After which he stopped the cart and hopped the fence, yanking one of the farmer’s plants right out of the dusty earth. Excitedly telling us how good it is, he hacked off all the edible roots and threw the mangled plant back into the field. When we returned to our cottages, he handed the roots over to the staff (the entirety of which hangs out by the bar all day, playing guitar and waiting for one of the two guests to do something interesting) and someone took the roots and prepared them. Within fifteen minutes we had a plate of grilled root on our table. We quickly figured out that it was cassava, and from our favorite cottage man Anto we learned that in the past Gili Air-ians have used it as a rice substitute. Since rice is necessarily imported into the Gilis it can be expensive, but cassava grows easily and can be diced up and cooked with coconut milk and substituted for rice. We had all sat dreading having to pretend the cassava was good, expecting a bitter, dry, raw potato, but it actually was pretty good. Very starchy, kind of like a yellowy, overcooked baked potato with a bit more fiber. And dipped in tomato sauce or sambal, pretty ok. Plus a very Gili meal, from chidomo ride to table.

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