MÉRIDA, YUCATÁN – Have you ever found yourself walking past the fruit and vegetable stands in one of the many markets in Mérida (or indeed elsewhere in Mexico) and wondering “what is that fruit?” Or “how would I cook that vegetable?” If you don’t speak good Spanish, then asking the vendor isn’t an option, so you opt to pass on the item rather than buy something unknown. There are some bizarre looking fruits and vegetables on display at markets, tianguis, and street corners around the country; how can you identify them?
These are exactly the questions and problems Canadian chef Margret Hefner found herself facing, and to which she decided she would find answers. Margret has spent years cooking with local ingredients in Mexico, many of which are specific to the region in which they are grown, and are often in season for only a few weeks a year. She has dedicated the last two years to researching and writing a guide to the fresh fruits and vegetables of Mexico. It’s designed to enable English speakers (whether residents or visitors) to visit the markets with greater confidence, help them recognize the produce on display, and know what to do with it once they get it home.
Plenty of cookbooks include brief descriptions of ingredients, and many online sources provide in-depth information on specific foods. In the absence of a single concise resource covering Mexican fruits and vegetables as a whole, which would help the average person, Margret developed her own.
Titled “Frutas y Verduras – Guide to the fresh taste of Mexico”, the guide helps shoppers incorporate truly local and indigenous produce into their buying and cooking routines. Designed with rich slideshows, audio pronunciation and simply explained essential information, this guide will demystify the unique fresh produce you find at the market. Simple, straightforward text guides you in choosing, using and preparing each ingredient so that you can get the most enjoyment from their flavors and reap the nutritional benefits.
Most of us in Mérida can identify a mango or a mamey, but how about a sapote? A sapote negro? A pitahaya? A rambutan? You’ve probably eaten slices of crunchy jicama in a bar, but would you recognize a whole jicama at the market? What exactly is that green herb being sold in enormous bunches for $10 pesos on the corner? “Frutas y Verduras – Guide to the fresh taste of Mexico” will help you answer these and many other questions.
The e-book is bright and easy to read, and organized in a straightforward manner with clear images, and designed to work best on a tablet. The price will be US$14.99, however it’s currently available for pre-order for only CAN$12 (US$9 at time of writing) through Margret’s Kickstarter page. It’s expected to be ready for download in January.
By Stewart Mandy
Questions or comments? Join the discussion below, or send an email to email@example.com
Born in Europe, raised in the Middle East, and a long-time resident in the Americas, Stewart has been based in Mérida, Yucatan since 2010, and has lived and worked worldwide in the media, travel, tourism and transportation industries for well over 20 years. His local contacts and global knowledge provide him with unmatched access to the stories ‘behind the stories’ and he likes to take you to the places that others don’t or won’t go. From the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego, from Moscow to Melbourne, from Bergen to Buenos Aires, Stewart has been there. Chances are, wherever you are heading, he knows the score.
In addition to The Yucatan Times, Stewart contributes (or has contributed) to “The Examiner” (www.examiner.com), “Business Briefings”, “Cruise & Ferry Magazine” and “The Apollo Magazine”. He is a former editor of “rolling pin CRUISE” magazine.
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