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Exotic Fruits and Vegetables of Oaxaca and Mexico

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Introduction

Mexican cities usually have supermarkets in them, similar to ones you find in the U.S.A. or Europe. As far as fruits and vegetables go, supermarkets are great for clones and zombies.

All Mexican cities will have an outdoor market or Mercado. And that is where all our food fun begins. The wide variety of foods can be over whelming. Instead of finding one type of banana you will have a choice of three varieties to choose from. And then there is that avocado the size of you thumb, what in the world do you do with that? What about the mushy rotting fruit that the old lady is selling, who in the world ever heard of zapote. And what do we do with all the green leafy things, does everyone here own a rabbit?

After living in Mexico for 30 years I still find new things to try. I hope to introduce you to a few new veggies and fruits or identify ones you have eaten. I am sure I am going to learn more too trying to identify new veggies and fruits. There must thousands of new fruits and vegetables for us to discover.

Although this page is about fruits and vegetables, I will include grains, nuts etc.... If it does not come from an animal or a bug it goes somewhere within the fruit and vegetable pages. Some plants that are medicinal will also be included as well. I am not going to include fruits and vegetable that are commonly available in the U.S. or Europe, so don't expect photos of cabbage, onions or potatoes.

Annona

Annona

Annona is a native plant of the North and South America. There are many varieties of Annona. This one has a consistency of custard and has a tangy fruity flavor. The seeds are not to be eaten. For a larger image of annona click HERE.

Arnica

Arnica

Arnica is spelled as árnica in Spanish. Arnica is used in liniment and ointment preparations for strains, sprains, and bruises. For a larger image of arnica click HERE.

Avocados

large avocado

Avocados are called aguacates in Spanish. Avocados originate from the Americas and there are numerous varieties.

You never know what you are going to find while wandering around in the market, how about an avocado weighing over a half of a kilo (1 lb)? It tastes the same as normal sized avocados. For a larger image, click HERE.

hojas de aguacate

Avocado leaves are called hojas de aguacates in Spanish. The leaves can be used either fresh or dried. They are used as flavoring in beans and in a variety of salsas. Hojas de aguacates are also believed to have a wide variety of medicinal properties. For a larger image of avocado leaves click HERE.

Hass Avocado

Hass avocados are the most common type of avocados. For a larger image of hass avocados click HERE.

Bananas

Bananas and plantains are called plátanos in Spanish. Bananas originate from Southeast Asia and were introduced into Mexico during the colonial period. The most common type of bananas are Cavendish bananas however in Mexico there other varieties commonly to be found in markets.

cavendish banana

Plátanos cavendish are the most common type of banana in Mexico and they are what you typically find in grocery stores in America, Europe and in Mexico.

plátano dominico

Plátanos dominicos are the size of a chubby finger and have a sweet flavor. The smaller size of plátanos dominicos makes it popular with those watching their weight. Click HERE for a larger image of plátano dominico.

Plátano macho

Plátanos machos acquire their name from their long length which seems to remind some of a male penis. Plátanos machos are usually fried in Mexico. Click HERE for a larger image of plátano macho.

plátano manzano

Plátanos manzanos are sweet and have an apple flavor. Click HERE for a larger image of plátano manzano.

plátano morado

Plátanos morados are sweeter and plumper than the cavendish bananas. Sadly they are harder to find, probably because they ripen faster giving the farmer less time to sell it before it spoils.

plátano peron

Plátanos peron probably has other names but I don't know them, if you do, please send me the name and a link if possible. This banana has five sides and is a bit wider and less sweet than a cavendish banana. Plátanos peron bruise easily and have a short shelf life. Click HERE for a larger image of plátano peron.

banana leaves

Banana leaves are sold in the market and are used for cooking tamales. The leaves are not intended to be eaten. Click HERE for a larger image

Biznaga

Biznaga

Biznaga, Ferocactus in English, is used to make candy called biznaga dulce. Biznaga is mostly water, to make the candy, the water is squeezed out and replaced with concentrated sugar water. Biznaga dulce is used in the Three Kings cake or la rosca de reyes and in los chiles en nogada. Click HERE for a larger image of biznaga.

Cacao

Cacao display

Cacao or cocoa in English originates from Central and South America. Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards and into the colonial period the cacao bean was used as currency in Mexico and Central America. The fruit of the cacao can be eaten although it rarely is. Cacao beans are used to make chocolate and in making moles.

The first image below is of cacao beans just removed from their pod. Click HERE for a larger image. The second image is of roasted cacao. A kilo or 2.2 lbs of these beans will cost a little less than U.S. $5. Click HERE for a larger image.

Cacao flower

The little white flower of cacao is known as rosita and is used in making tejate, a non-alcoholic drink made of maize, cacao, mamey seeds and cacao's little flower. Click HERE for a larger image.

Cajiniquil, see Jinicuil

Camomile

Camomile

Camomile or manzanilla in Spanish is usually used to make tea that helps relieve stress and and help one fall asleep. Camomile tea also is helps settle an upset stomach and treat moderate diarrhea. Camomile tea has a flavor similar to apples. Click HERE for a larger image.

Carambola

Star fruit

Carambola is spelled the same in Spanish and English. It also goes by the name fruta estrella in Spanish as will as "star fruit" in English. Carambola originates from Southeast Asia and now prospers throughout Central America. It has a sweet and citric flavor. For a larger image of carambola click HERE.[Carambola1]

Cashew Apple, see Marañona

Cassava

Cassava

Cassava is called yuca or tapioca in Spanish. Cassava can be found at times and is not widely available. For a larger image of cassava click HERE.

Chayote

Chayote is a type of squash and is native to Central America. It is now grown throughout the world. In Mexico it is often found in stews and soups.

Chayote

Chayote with spines is not usually available in the markets. For a larger image of chayote with spines click HERE.

Chícayote de Bejuco

Chícayote de Bejuco

Ever wonder what the indigenous peoples used to wash their clothes before the arrival of the Spanish? If you are like me, I am sure you have pondered over this matter for countless hours. Along the coast of Oaxaca the indigenous used the berries of this vine, called chícayote de bejuco, the dried berries are slightly grounded up when used. I used some of the mixture on my hands and they did get a soapy feeling to them. Click HERE for a larger image of chícayote de bejuco.

Chiconostle, see Nopal

Chiles

chiles secos

Chiles are called chilis and chiles in English. Chiles originate from the Americas and currently there over 50,000 varieties. I will only discuss the most common varieties chiles and dried chiles, chiles secos in Spanish, that are used in Mexican and Oaxacan cooking. Click HERE for a larger image of dried chiles.

chiles costenos secos

Chiles costeños secos. Click HERE for a larger image of chiles costeños.

chiles de agua

Chiles de agua. A popular chile from Oaxaca and among Oaxacans in particular. Oddly, chiles de agua are by the piece and not by the weight as other chiles are. Click HERE for a larger image of chiles de agua.

chiles habaneros

Chiles habaneros are, I think, the hottest chile you will in most Mexican markets. Click HERE for a larger image of chiles habaneros.

chile piquin

Chile piquin are also known as chiltepin and chile tepin. They can be almost as hot as chiles habaneros. Click HERE for a larger image of chile piquin.

chiles poblanos

Chiles poblanos. Click HERE for a larger image of chiles poblanos.

chiles serranos

Chiles serranos also known as chiles verdes are native to Mexico and perhaps the most utilized chile in Mexico. Click HERE for a larger image of chiles serranos.

chiles tustas

Chiles tustas are a popular chile of coastal Oaxaca. Click HERE for a larger image of chiles tustas.

Chiles verdes, see Chiles serranos.

Chipilín

Chipilín also known as chepil and chepilin is native to Mexico. It is known to be rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, and beta carotene. Chipilín is usually served in soups and most commonly in tamales. Click HERE for a larger image of the chipilín plant. Click HERE for a larger image of chipilín leaves.

Cilantro

cilantro leaves

Cilantro or coriander is cilantro in Spanish. Cilantro is used as garnish on many Mexican foods, it is also used in guacamole and in many salsas. Cilantro seeds are also ground up and used as a spice. 4 to 14% of people find that cilantro tastes like soap, it is a genetic.[cilantro1] For a larger image of cilantro click HERE.

Cola de Caballo

Cola de Caballo

Cola de caballo has some medical uses such as a diuretic and to treat kidney infections. In the colonial period it was used to clean pots and pans. For a larger image of cola de caballo click HERE.

Coriander, see Cilantro

Cuitlacoche, see Huitlacoche

Dragon Fruit, see Pitahaya

Epazote

Epazote

Epazote is native to the Americas. It is used to flavor a wide variety of Mexican foods, most notably in black beans. Epazote is also used to cure stomach parasites. Click HERE for a larger image of epazote.

Footnotes and Notes

  1. Carambola1. Carambola. Wikipedia.org. Retrieved Dec. 2017. According to Wikipedia, "Carambolas contain caramboxin and oxalic acid. Both substances are harmful to individuals suffering from kidney failure, kidney stones, or those under kidney dialysis treatment." And again according to Wikipedia, "Like the grapefruit, carambola is considered to be a potent inhibitor of seven cytochrome P450 isoforms. These enzymes are significant in the first-pass elimination of many medications, and, thus, the consumption of carambola or its juice in combination with certain prescription medications can significantly increase their effective dosage within the body. Research into grapefruit juice (its potent enzymes) for instance, identified a significant effect (requires change in dose or other side effects) on common medications when taken concurrently by the patient, including statins, which are commonly used to treat high cholesterol and cardiovascular illness, opiates/opioids, and benzodiazepines (a sedative tranquilizer drug family that includes diazepam)".
  2. Cilantro1. Ledbetter, Carly. 24 June, 2015. Science Explains Why Cilantro Tastes Like Soap For Certain People. Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved Jan 2018.

Photo Credits

Photos taken by Marc Wilkinson. I, the copyright holder, hereby publish these photos under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

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