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The lotus has special significance for Buddhists. It is for them a symbol of purity, undefiled despite its muddy origin. LOTUS ROOT is so exotic looking that when most people see it they feel compelled to find out what it is. It is the subaqueous rhizome (swollen stem) of the lotus flower that grows in muddy ponds throughout Asia. The rhizome resembles huge sausage links, a large string of which may easily measure more than a meter. The air passages that run through the bulb form a lacy pattern that is revealed when the rhizome is peeled and sliced crosswise. Western chefs prize this quality, and use lotus root most often as a garnish. Although a woody, starchy vegetable, it has a mildly sweet flavor, faintly reminiscent of artichokes, and a crisp texture that holds well when cooked. Lotus root is often boiled in soup with pork bones and peanuts, cut into chunks for use as a vegetable, or stuffed, typically with mashed mung beans, and braised with pork. Lotus root can also be candied, pickled or deep-fried.