A Miscellany of Elephant's Feet

Ah... the delights of the Elephant's Foot. Now when I was a lad, back in the day, the elephant's foot was a rare treat indeed. Choux pastry, a great lump of it, all mis-shapen like a mutated eclair, but filled to bursting with fresh whipped cream. Ah, to be a boy with one of these, sometimes covered in chocolate or icing sugar. Perhaps it's a peculiarly English treat, but any visit to the bakery brought with it the possibility, just a faint possibility...

Nowadays, they tell me, it's an Elephantopus carolinianus, some sort of plant in the United States. Perennial, they say, grows in the South-East. As though I care, but it's fond of open woodland and grows to about two feet tall with basal leaves and pink flowers. Pretty, I dare say, but not a patch on having something to eat.

According to my encyclopaedia, there is yet another edible one, if you live in Southern Africa. Some kind of yam they call Testudinaria elephantipes, which grows in drier areas, but you can at least eat the fleshy tuber. It is sometimes called 'Hottentot Bread', and the tuber, a kind of root, gets to be about 3 feet across. The plant grows out of this, with skinny stems which climb up whatever they can. It isn't much eaten, but is still grown in conservatories as a curiosity. Dioscorea alata is another yam from India and Malaya, again, edible.

But I still don't think you can beat the old ways... now my grandmother had an elephant's foot, a real foot from a real elephant. She used to keep umbrellas in it, and walking sticks. Ah, when I was a lad...

Encyclopædia Britannica