Like so many foodstuffs which are now globally ubiquitous, tapioca, the starch extracted from a variously named tuber (manioc, cassava, yuca, etc.) was introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese, from the New World, to their far-flung colonies. It has a vast array of culinary uses, and is still the main carbohydrate source in many cultures. Tapioca starch is pure, clear, flavourless, and elastic, which makes it ideal for thickening sauces, and providing stocks and soups with a little body, without affecting taste, colour or transparency. It is also gluten free.