Cooking · Culture · Photography · Travel

Give It A Try

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Have you ever eaten cactus? Pig snout? Grasshoppers? Well, come to Mexico and try! There’s lots of great beaches here, too.

Today, I let my son “Seven” skip school for World School, and big market day. After our front seat AC, kid-movie-on-the-dvd, happy-go-lucky-bus-driver ride, I had to stay in the vein of “Yes!” I could not resist huge vats of frying pork fat.

I tried a taco de trompa, pig snout. It was as you might suspect: porky-tasty, gummy-chewey. I piled it with taco bar texture and spice. “Seven” stuck with carnitas or “regular” roast pig. Isn’t it funny how many omnivore-types freak at the thought of eating noses, feet or tongues, but have no problem with butts, shoulders and legs?

Ahh, that is another subject beast. For now, let’s touch on something a little less complicated, shall we?

Cactus! Humble star of the Mexican taco bar. Nopal, those hearty, prickly plants that grow with little water. We can eat them! I suppose to me they are uncomplicated because Some One Else harvests the brilliant green, clumps-of-tiny-sticker covered paddles, then Some One’s grandma holds them gently in her deep-brown hands and carefully cuts out the tiny-sticker-clumps. Finishing them off near julienne.

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In Mexico, we can buy nopales in many frutería/veggie stands, neatly packaged in clear, hopeful bags. Clean strips, or whole oval paddles. 12 pesos a pound. That’s 75 cents.

My first cook, I kept it simple, though not typical Mexican boil simple. I sautéed. After caramelizing a Spanish onion, I added garlic, then the nopales, sprinkling salt each round. Nopal cooks quickly… A little way in their clear, sticky liquid, their okra-like quality, shows up. By the end they’ve reduced to half their original mass. Rough, dainty cactus are full of water.

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I found them curiously sour. I was pleased I hadn’t squeezed in a lime. On the other hand, the fruit, the “tuna” or prickly pear, is sweet, melty, soft. Refreshing. Super hydrating. Light green or vibrating deep-purple-pink. You can peel the bulb by carefully breaking open the top with your thumb and pulling down the skin to make a star. Inside you’ll find many small-beebee-sized black seeds, which I swallow whole. To read more about nopal click here.

“Seven” and I like the cactus veg. It has a lot of give-back in the mouth. Smooth, slippery. Slightly green bean, slightly asperagee, but tart. I like to add them to a fresh tomato sauce to enjoy with spaghetti. (Spaghetti...my favorite comfort food.) Our new dinner-explore reminds me of a wonderful dish my Nonna used to make with these crazy green beans, 8-year-old-fore-arm length, super skinny flat, twirl around your fork with the linguine kinda green beans, with clingin’ garlic and tomatoes. Nonno’s Garden Memory Update = Spaghetti Nopales.

Que rico los dos!

And pig snout? Hmm…I put this in the Balinese Dragonfly-On-A-Stick category: happy to have been there, done that! El Fin.

Buen Provecho, Amigos!

Remember, Slow & Holy…

No wall between us.

Xo,
e.

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