As lost crops go, few are more obscure than mauka (Mirabilis expansa). I mean this is a crop that was unknown to science before 1965, though that's a bit like saying Columbus discovered America. It's probably been cultivated for thousands of years.
Anyway, it's not the best known Andean root crop.
Last year I managed to get hold of seeds of two varieties from CIP in Peru. One variety failed to germinate, whilst the other, 208001, produced two small seedlings.
Frank Van Keirsbilck managed to get a whole load more to grow. His roots also grew much bigger than mine. I think mine got slightly stunted because I was growing them in pots. Still, it wasn't a competition (was it?) and to grow a plant I've been wanting to meet for decades was very, very exciting. The quality of my photography seems to be inversely correlated with the level of excitement I'm feeling at the time, hence the low-fi images presented here. I'll do a more extensive post on mauka some other time.
About Christmas time the pots froze pretty much solid and the tops were killed. As we've been having some more cold weather recently , I thought it was time to rescue the plants and eat the roots. I've cut off the top sections for replanting
Anyway, this evening we tasted a root for the first time. It was good. Very good, actually, with a pleasant blend of potato,turnip and chestnut flavours. Not an acquired or peculiar taste, but a nice one. I boiled the bits we tried for about 15 minutes. I then put a bit of butter on them. We ate them, then we went "mmmmm". You can't say mauka without saying "mmmmm".