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:

bq. 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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