A Succulent Succulent
The tour guide in Sardinia was so proud of the beautiful landscape, pointing out the numerous Italian cacti with their little pink bumps, clearly believing them to be natives (like herself) and a part of the terrain from time immemorial.
When myMEGusta looked at these plants, yes, she saw how pretty. But her thoughts immediately went to delicious prickly pears. And, nopales, the subtly flavored vegetable which emerges from the painstakingly peeled and processed cactus itself.
Native to the Americas, cactus plants of all shapes and sizes grow prolifically in the western and southwestern United States, and throughout Central and South America, where they are enjoyed as a source of food as well as beauty. Like many other plants, they were carried to Europe and all points beyond, and, when in a favorable climate, grow like weeds, to the point of being considered invasive in some areas.
But today we’re talking about the fun part of one particular type of cactus, the part that appears at lunch! And dinner! Depending on where you live, prickly pears may be relatively easy to find.
Less so is the cactus leaf, the source of the nopales, either as a hunk of cactus or already prepped, perhaps at the supermarket, and certainly at Latino supermercados, either in the produce section or in a jar.
But I would not suggest either with liver, thank you.
Here is my childhood prickly pear story:
My cousin Teresa’s father (Uncle Ralph) used to have a corner grocery store in Bridgeport, CT. In those days, the fresh fruit came in crates, and each piece of fruit was nestled in tissue paper.
Uncle Ralph had a customer, an old lady, who rarely bought anything, but always asked him to save her the tissue paper which she used as toilet paper. He always did this for her, even though it was an inconvenience to do this for a customer who rarely bought anything. Well, one day he saved her the tissue paper from the prickly pears.
And she never came back to the store again!
Gooood story as usual. Where we live in Jackson heights, NY Cactus leaves and prickly pears are readily available. Around here the prickly pear is called tuna. (funny, tuna in the desert?)