Mashua Flavor Comparisons
To some extent, I doubt the value of this page. Flavor is a subjective experience. In some cases, the way that you interpret flavors is determined by experience and in others by biology. Two people can taste the same food and not only have different responses to the flavor but actually experience different flavors. Flavor will also vary objectively, since at least some of the compounds that give mashua its flavor are stress linked. A variety that is mild when grown in one climate may be strong when grown in another. I have ranked varieties as totally lacking in cabbagey flavor one year and then moderately high the next, so this page reflects my average experience over time. Despite these limitations, I get a ton of questions about which mashuas are the “best” or the “mildest,” so this is an attempt to describe the flavors in the most objective way that I can and let you decide what might appeal to you the most. All of these evaluations are done with tubers that have been roasted at 350 degrees F for 60 to 90 minutes (until fork tender). I don’t bother doing taste tests with raw mashua, because almost nobody likes to eat it that way, including me.
Mashua varieties fall into two main groups – those with a cabbagey flavor and those without. The best predictor for whether you will like the cabbagey ones is whether you like Brassicas, Brussels sprouts in particular. If you like Brussels sprouts, you will probably like most mashua varieties. Almost everybody likes the varieties that have no cabbagey flavor. The next most problematic flavor is the flowery aftertaste of some varieties. A lot of people have a hard time with that. It is pretty subtle in fully cooked mashua though.
One final point I would like to make: If you have never tasted mashua before, it is probably going to taste differently than you expect. The combination of flavors is hard to identify and many people find it off-putting. However, I have known many people who have come to like mashua after initially finding it revolting, including myself. Try it a few times and give your brain a chance to grow accustomed to the flavor. I will eat a plain cooked mashua tuber as happily as I will a potato now and that was once unimaginable.