Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-16-21 Oaxacan Mole Blanco

O=Oaxacan Mole Blanco

Norma Abril for Atlas Obscura

Natalia Mendez is credited as the creator of the before non-existent mole blanco, at the family-run Oaxacan restaurant -La Morada, in the Bronx, New York. Clear as mud? Let me explain.

Since Oaxaca is said to be the home of seven moles, mole blanco was never included on that list. This mole was a special treat that was reserved for Easter and Christmas back in her home region of Oaxaca-in Mixteca. She and her co-owner brought the rare mole blanco recipe into the spotlight with it’s mild, decadent, luxuriously creamy sauce, which is a result of blending coconut oil, peanuts, white pine nuts, and peeled almonds. Behind the opaque veneer lies the heat from habanero and serrano chiles, toasted onion, pungent garlic, and chicken broth.

Back in Mixteca, the families would serve the white sauce over local, edible tree blossoms that tasted like green beans atop a protein base of rabbit, chicken, or chiles rellenos. It’s flavor has been described by food magazine Serious Eats as “stikingly thick and supremely nutty.”

Deepakvenkat for Atlas Obscura

Tradition was to pulverized the mole blanco (white gravy) in a Mexican mortar and pestle called a molcajete y tejolote. Today, however, modern cooks most likely use a food processor or blender. 😉

Try in next time you’re in New York at La Morada, 308 Willis Ave. The Bronx, New York 10454!

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Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-14-21 Naranjilla

N=Naranjilla

Having learned a bit of Spanish, I already knew this word meant “little orange” but these are no ordinary oranges, in fact, they aren’t even citrus!!

E6W7HE Freshly prepared juice out of Naranjilla or Lulo fruits (lat. Solanum quitoense) with fruits on the side and in the back. Image shot 2014. Exact date unknown.

The naranjilla is from the nightshade family, so it’s more like a tomato or even an eggplant. What?? How can that be?

Check out the picture, showing a sliced naranjilla. It does resemble a tomato! They say it is tart, making it great for jellies, smoothies, and even wine.

Columbians make a simple drink with the naranjilla, lime juice, sugar, and water. For more adventure, they sometimes add vodka, but my mind went straight to tequila!

Orcates-Photo credit Gastro Obscura

The fragile plant grows only in the South American region, it’s harvested unripe so fungus doesn’t have time to grow on it.

In 1939, the fruit was showcased at the New York World’s Fair, sparking interest and a desire to grow the plant here, however, the only attempt that was halfway successful was in Florida, but they were destroyed by hurricanes.

Your best bet is to try it at the Lulo Cafe and Bar de Jugos in Columbia. Anyone headed there? The address is: 162-1674 Cra 3, Santa Marta, 470004, Columbia

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Writing, Writing Prompts

CCC #127 04-15-21 Tragedy

“Timmy get down from that roof immediately!” the nurse said. She had gone to his room and not discovering him there, knew just where he would be.

There had been problems like this before, which is why he was sent here to the institution.

Now Nurse Amelia had to get him down before another tragedy struck. She only prayed she wasn’t too late.

Timmy’s father had jumped to his death just last month.

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Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-14-21 Maca

M=Maca or maca powder

MYBODYWPG-for Atlas Obscura

The food the Peruvians have been using as a staple crop for millennia is maca, or maca root, which is usually dried and ground into a powder. In that form, it can be used to cook into soup, smoothies, and baked goods, although they say the gelatinized form is more potent.

Potent as what? Well, South Americans view the food supplement as medicine. Descendants of the Incas–the Quechua Indians — have used the plant that comes from the radish family medicinally since ancient times. The root is high in copper, calcium, and iron and it’s said it was used to increase fertility and for energy. The Incas used it to ready themselves for battle. Farmers feed it to livestock to increase the chance for fertility, and women used it to ease menopause or alleviate menstrual problems. Those suffering from fatigue, anemia, osteoporosis, also used it to treat their symptoms.

AMAVEDA-for Atlas Obscura

Outside of Peru, many others who are health-conscious, use it in smoothies, oatmeal and desserts. Western fans, like myself, liken the flavor to malty caramel, but others find it ‘earthy’. I always added it to my smoothies when I wanted that malt-like flavor. It gave me energy, and may have contributed to increased sexual activity, but I am not sure if my memory serves me right, I’ve slept since then. 😉

Maca’s earthy, nutty flavor blends well with chocolate and almond, so chocolate “malts” (sugar-free for me) would be delicious. It can also be added to muffins, breads, cakes, and cookies. Even keto versions of these sweet treats can be made better with maca. The Peruvians even made a sort of weak beer with the root of the maca, they prepared it by chewing the starch to initiate fermentation. (Yuck) It was called chicha. People who live in Huancayo, Peru are fans in particular of maca-based jams and puddings.

It’s ideal growing environment is an altitude of 13,000 feet in the Andes. Since the climate is harsh, maca was one of the few plants the Andean plateau dwellers could grow successfully. It has since gained the reputation as a “superfood”. It is shelf-stable, making it ideal for baked goods and/or thickening porridge or it can be used as a coffee substitute when roasted. Hmmm. Never tried that one!

I found in my research a delicious coffee alternative drink I will just have to try! Find the recipe here! Find maca on sale at iHerb for $6.61 for the 4oz. bag, or $20.88 for the 16oz bag. It is the more potent gelatinized powder.

Science has yet to substantiate many of the health claims, yet preliminary research has demonstrated the effects beyond a placebo. Initial studies suggest that it may benefit postmenopausal women in particular. Maybe several millennia of medicinal uses might be rooted in ancient truth after all.

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Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-13-21 Lillipad Cafe

L=Lillipad Cafe

All photos courtesy of the Lillipad Cafe

Kangaroo meat, otherwise known as “Gangurru” is the star ingredient of the Lillipad’s signature burger, featuring Indigenous Australian wattleseed. This gives the burger hazelnut-bitter notes, and it’s topped with juicy bush tomato relish and finger-lime mayo.

Courtesy of the Lillipad Cafe-photo credit: Atlas Obscura

This brunch and lunch spot, located in the Glebe Market area of Australia, is owned by Nyoka and Laszio Hrabinsky who are making indigenous “bush tucker” food famous, like gangurru and cinnamon myrtle, Davidson plum, and macadamia nuts.

Nyoka is an ethnobotanist from the indigenous Yidinji nation, who learned how to use these ingredients in her food by observing her elders as a child in her community in Queensland.

Working with native peoples, she documented and preserved their plant knowledge and heritage to eventually bring bush tucker to urban Sydney in the form of burgers and breakfast treats. If you find yourself in Sydney, Australia, have a go at sampling this interesting sounding food and hop on over to the Lillipad Cafe.

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