Vallarta Culture: 4 Taste Treats Only Found Here
Ah, the fruits and vegetables of Mexico. We love the unique shopping experiences and bringing home food that we are not always certain how to prepare or eat. Learning about these new delectables has been a fun and usually delicious experience.
Our first tomatillo (pronounced toe-mo-tio), also known as the Mexican husk tomato, landed in the fruit basket with absolutely no idea what it was or how to prepare it. A knowledgeable friend and neighbor educated us properly and with huge delight we learned to make delicious green salsas, just like those we formerly purchased in a tin can!
Jicama (pronounced hic-a-ma) resembles the familiar turnip and has a similar texture when cut open. Unlike the turnip however, it is crispy and sweet and a wonderful addition to any salad, be it fruit or vegetable based. Often found in fruit cups one buys on the street or beach in Puerto Vallarta, jicama is devilishly delicious, sliced and sprinkled with chile and lime juice. Our favorite combination is with cucumber and watermelon. Peel the thick brown skin before eating.
Chayote (pronounced chai-o-tee), also known as christophene, is a pale green vegetable, part of the melon and squash families. Though rare in US markets, chayote is very common fare on the dining tables in Puerto Vallarta and all of Mexico. An excellent source of Vitamin C, it can be peeled or cooked with skin on. We like it mixed with other vegetables in a side dish and not crazy about eating it raw in salads. However, it is delicious when served with carrots and other vegetables in an escabeche sauce. Some like it mashed, as one might serve potatoes or yams, but this process requires more seasoning than we think it deserves.
If you’re looking for guanabana (pronounced wanabana) in the USA, you will most likely find it under the name of soursop, if you find it at all. Guanabana is available at any local market in Puerto Vallarta and we like it sometimes as a tasty treat to serve to guests willing to try something new. With an oddly prickly outer layer, we have heard it described as tasting like strawberry, banana, soft coconut and/or having a citrus flavor. Best to try it yourself… using a sharp knife, slice it open, remove the seeds and eat as you would any melon, cut in small bite-sized pieces. Guanabana is often promoted as graviola, an alternative treatment for cancer, though there is no medical evidence that it is effective.
Que es cómo es.
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