Since before the arrival of Europeans in South America, the Amerindians of Guyana have been boiling down the poisonous juice of cassava to make cassareep, a safe, flavorful sauce for meats and stews. Cassareep is used to flavor pepperpot, Guyana's national dish of slow-cooked meat, whose popularity has spread from the country's Amerindian communities to the Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese communities. To uncover the origins of cassareep, the author visits an inland village of Makushi Amerindians, where the sauce is still made by hand in the traditional way. First, the cook packs shredded cassava solids into a matapee, a cylindrical basket that is squeezed to extract the juice. The juice is then boiled to destroy the cyanide, and spices such as cinnamon and habanero peppers are added. Because small artisan operations do not produce enough cassareep to satisfy the current demand of the Guyanese at home and abroad, the author tours a bottling plant near the capital to observe how cassareep is produced on a commercial scale and discovers appliances and machinery custom-made for Guyana's temperamental power grid.

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