This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V25", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
On my arrival in Charleston, S. C, more than forty years ago, Tanyas, "Caladium esculentum" were commonly sold in the Charleston market as a vegetable; and among other things sent by a friend as gifts to us as strangers, on our first going to housekeeping, was a bag of tanyas. What was I to do with them? My Irish cook declared them to be nothing better than rotten potatoes, she "knew the nasty things well." So they laid on the floor of the piazza till my husband came in; he said they were very nice - "Boil them a long while as you would potatoes, and eat them with plenty of butter; make them into soup with a good piece of beef." All was done as he ordered, a great dish of greyish white mealy balls appeared on the dinner table, enormous things, tinted with blue and red - very discouraging to look at, worse to eat.
The next day tanya soup was carefully boiled with all sorts of condiments to make it palatable; that was better, but two or three spoonfuls were sufficient, and we have never tried tanyas as vegetables since, though I planted in my garden what remained of the brown rough balls and reaped a harvest of delight in their lovely growth, which I had then never seen in Europe.
On what is called the King Street road, the same summer, on the edge of a very muddy ditch, intersected by another equally black and oozy, grew, apparently wild, a magnificent growth of tanyas. Year after year they increased and multiplied, till they covered both ditches and much of the surrounding field. In those far-off times of which I write the negroes had a legend that tanyas were originally brought by them from Africa, and certainly to this day they are eaten by them, and a patch may always be found in their gardens.
[The editor's recollection of roasted tanyas is not unfavorable.]