Mexican cuisine is renowned for its use of bold flavors and exotic ingredients. One such ingredient that has been a part of the country's culinary heritage since pre-Hispanic times is edible flowers. These flowers not only add vibrant colors and flavors to dishes but also offer various health benefits.
History of Eating Flowers in Mexico
The custom of eating flowers in Mexico dates back to the time before the Spanish conquest when the Aztecs used edible flowers in their cuisine. The flowers were used for both medicinal and culinary purposes, and their consumption was an essential part of the Aztec culture. Over time, the use of edible flowers spread throughout the country, and today, it is an integral part of Mexican cuisine.
Types of Edible Flowers in Mexican Cuisine
Numerous types of edible flowers are used in Mexican cuisine. Some of the most popular ones include cocohuite, oak napaco, ash, izote or yucca, animas, maguey, flor de mayo, turnip, nopal, flor de oreja, palo blanco, pata de vaca, aloe, willow, and tiger flower. These flowers are either cultivated or grow wild in the central regions of Mexico and are sold in local markets known as tianguis.
The Queen of Edible Flowers: Squash Flower
While there are numerous edible flowers used in Mexican cuisine, the most popular and widely used is the squash flower. Its use is maintained on a massive scale in all social strata, especially in the central region of the country. The flowers are used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, tacos, and quesadillas. They have a delicate, slightly sweet taste and a vibrant color that adds a unique flavor and aesthetic appeal to dishes.
Growing Popularity of Edible Flowers
With globalization and new food technologies, the consumption of edible flowers has spread internationally. Eating flowers grown on organic land is becoming a revolutionary form of human nutrition. These flowers are not only aesthetically pleasing but also offer various health benefits. For instance, squash flowers are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and iron, making them a nutritious addition to any dish.
Cooking with Edible Flowers
Cooking with edible flowers is easy, and there are numerous ways to incorporate them into dishes. Squash flowers can be stuffed with cheese and fried to make quesadillas or added to soups and stews. Other flowers can be used to make salads, and desserts, or used as a garnish. When cooking with edible flowers, it is essential to ensure that they are clean and free of any pesticides.
The use of edible flowers in Mexican cuisine dates back to pre-Hispanic times and is an integral part of the country's culinary heritage. While there are numerous types of edible flowers used in Mexican cuisine, the squash flower remains the most popular and widely used. With the growing popularity of organic food and the increasing interest in sustainable agriculture, the consumption of edible flowers is becoming a revolutionary form of human nutrition. So, the next time you see a vibrant flower, remember that it might not only be beautiful but also delicious and nutritious.