Taro root is a starchy vegetable, which is similar to a potato. It has a papery, fibrous skin and white flesh (sometimes flecked with purple, as in the photo above). Taro should never be eaten raw, as some varieties are toxic until you cook them. When cooked, it takes on a potato-like texture, with a slightly nutty and earthy flavour. Be sure to remove the skin before eating.
Taro root is native to tropical areas, and is often used in Caribbean, Polynesian and African cuisine. A variety of taro called Dasheen is grown in the United States, and is generally easy to find at most supermarkets and speciality food stores. Since these tubers can grow to be quite large (up to a foot in length, and several inches in girth) you can sometimes find it sold in large pieces. Choose roots that are firm and smooth.
You can cook taro root much like how you would cook a potato. They can be boiled and made into mash (although be warned, it will be grey in colour!), or served in slices with a little bit of salt and butter. You can also try baking thick slices in the oven, or frying thin slices into chips. Thinly sliced fried strips can be used as a crunchy garnish on soup or salads, like this Singaporean Style Slaw.