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Peanuts and the Arawak

I’ve been reading Cecil Adams’ column The Straight Dope for years. The man is a fount of knowledge, and he now enlists a team of helpers to keep pace with the steady stream of internet inquiries. I’ve spotted a few references to Haitian history in Adams’ columns over the years.

The following reference to Hispaniola and the Arawak showed up in response to a recent batch of questions about peanuts:

The earliest European exposure to the peanut most likely occurred when the Spanish arrived at Hispaniola in 1502, where the Arawak peoples knew of the food and called it “mani” ... The first printed Spanish account, from 1535, says, “They sow and harvest it. It is a very common crop . . . about the size of a pine nut in the shell. They consider it a healthy food.

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