Everything is just a little tougher in rural Mexico; the meat is chewy but tasty, the pit is usually bigger than the flesh, and we eat field corn just like the livestock. This is not a place for those who care much for comfort. The area’s wild food is an interesting metaphor for what our life is like.
You must work hard to find and harvest your reward.
There will likely be more cascara (peel) than sustenance.
There is a lot of competition for your prize, but when you find what you’re looking for it will be unique, beautiful, challenging, colorful and nourishing.
April and May are the hottest months of the year and oddly, though we have not had any significant rain since October there are many lovely offerings from the forest during this time.
Parota seed pods are beautiful objects. They are harvested young for parboiling, and the mature pods are toasted in ashen coals. I prefer them from the coals, they taste like corn nuts.
Felipe’s mother, Socorro is a great resource of information about the what and when to harvest from the forest. She raised nine children with subsistence farming and foraging. She put Felipe through high school (education is only paid for by the state thru 9th grade in Morelos) with money she made scouring the mountain trails with her burro gathering firewood, native plants and wild honey. Though she refuses to eat much of it herself any longer, she says she’s done eating weeds, she does continue to forage for remedy ingredients such as ballas de cuatecomate ,(fruit of calabash tree) y cascara de cauchalalate (bark of the Mexican Cauchalalate tree) Most of the plants used for remedies bare indigenous Nahuatal names, which makes me believe, simply by virtue of their etymology, that they are more effective than traditional medicines. My friend Patrick classifies this type of conjecture as Abbytific.
In February and March guajes and tamarindo are plentiful in Morelos. When I first arrived I wasn’t particularly fond of guajes. They were either flavorless or bitter, thought they were fun to eat by stripping the seeds off the pod with your teeth. This season I developed and obsession for them. I actually went out in the middle of the night and pulled them off the tree with my chicol (a device made of a sunflower stalk, designed to pull fruits from trees) for a midnight snack. I wondered if I had a vitamin deficiency or parasite that could be treated with guajes. I think the body asks for what it needs. I once had an iron deficiency that I believe prompted a craving of weird intensity for arugula and parsley. My roommate would find me squatting in front of the vegetable drawer stuffing unwashed fistfuls in my mouth like a feral child. Continue reading →