The arracacha (Arracacia xanthorriza) is a garden root vegetable originally from the Andes, somewhat intermediate between the carrot and celery. Its starchy taproot is a popular food item in South America, especially in Brazil where it is a major commercial crop.
The name arracacha (or racacha) was borrowed into Spanish from Quechua, and is used in the Andean region. The plant is also called apio criollo (“Creole celery”) in Venezuela, zanahoria blanca (“white carrot”) in Ecuador, virraca in Peru, and mandioquinha (“little cassava”) or batata-baroa in Brazil. It is sometimes called white carrot in English, but that name properly belongs to white varieties of the common carrot.
The leaves are similar to parsley, and vary from dark green to purple. The roots resemble fat short carrots, with lustrous off-white skin. The interior may be white, yellow, or purple.
The most important part is the starchy root. It cannot be eaten raw, but when cooked, it develops a distinctive flavor and aroma that have been described as “a delicate blend of celery, cabbage and roast chestnuts”.
The boiled root has about the same uses as boiled potatoes, including side dishes, purées, dumplings and gnocchi, pastries, etc., with the advantage of its flavor and (depending on the variety) its intense color. In the Andes region, it is made into fried chips, biscuits, and coarse flour. Because it is highly digestible (due to the small size of its starch grains), purées and soups made from it are considered excellent for babies and children.