The avocado (Persea americana) is a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The fruit of the plant is botanically a large berry containing a single seed. Avocados are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world. In 2017, Mexico produced 34% of the world supply of avocados.
BENEFITS: Among the claims for avocados are that they improve heart health; support eye, skin, and hair health; fight cancer cell growth; promote weight loss; enhance digestive health; protect against diabetes; and decrease arthritis symptoms.
USES: Avocados are delicious as they are–just peel and slice or scoop with a spoon. A quarter of an avocado in a smoothie gives it a delicious creamy texture that blends well with other flavors. Avocados can be used in salsas, dips, and salad dressings, and, of course, they are the key ingredient in the Mexican dish that is appreciated worldwide–Guacamole!
Tortillas, beans, rice, and chiles are staples in Mexican households and Mexican restaurants all over the world, but people south of the border enjoy many other foods you may not have heard about. Here are a few of them.
A deliciously sour-sweet watery and nutritious cactus fruit.
Smells like pineapple, tastes like strawberries and apple with a touch of citrus, with a creamy texture, like coconut or banana, and generous amounts of Vitamins B and C.
A delicious and nutritious edible “disease,” huitlacoche, the fungus known in English as corn smut, can bring a higher price than the corn on which it grows. Raw or roasted, it makes delicious tacos, quesadallas, enhiladas, and other delicacies.
Flor de Calabaza
The beautiful squash flower can be cooked or eaten raw, made into poppers, or used as an ingredient in vegetarian pozole.
Nopales y Tunas
It may look like something to avoid touching, but this is a desert feast. The tunas (cactus pears) taste as sweet as jam when they are ripe, and they can be found in an explosion of different bright colors. The leaves, known as nopales in the mercado, are a rich source of protein and fiber. They can be scraped, chopped, seasoned, sauteed, and enjoyed in a variety of dishes.
(Original article published by M. Lesh in Coffee Talk, September 1, 2019)