This is what every Mexican ex-pat cries for.
I’m surprised that more people in the Great White North haven’t heard about the juicy watery goodness that is the jicama (he-camah). Apparently, the jicama goes by several aliases (so sneaky). Depending on your area look for yam bean, Mexican water chestnut, Mexican turnip, sengkwang, or yacon. Who knew!
Anyway, this vegetable is fleshy and full of flavor, and by taste alone it would be difficult to differentiate from a fruit. I don’t even know how to explain it, you have to try it. Find it in your local Latin or Asian market, or maybe in Caribbean shops.
When I was in school this is what every kid wanted their moms to pack for lunch: Strips of jicama, maybe also with carrots and cucumber, bathed in lime juice, chili powder and snack salsa. The chili powder and salsa are not the ones you would use for cooking– they’re more of a junk food-kind of thing.
But I mean really, here we were begging our moms to send us a plate of veggies for lunch. PLEASE MOTHER. My sister and I (and my neighbor-best friend, too!) would sometimes sneak and hide so mom wouldn’t get a glimpse of how much hot spicy stuff we poured on our veggies. Mexican kids are obviously bad asses I know. But who’s complaining; even with the junky chili powder I’m sure this is a much better option for a school lunch that Cheez-its, cheese strings and potato chips.
In every Mexican town and especially near the markets you’ll undoubtedly find people parking their mobile stands by the sidewalks, selling cups of fruits and vegetables prepared like the one above in their little carts, which are filled with ice to keep the goodies cool. This is a very popular snack.
Just slice the jicama, squeeze some lime on it and sprinkle with the snack chili powder and salsa, which you can buy online, or at the same Latin market where you’ll find the jicama– they go hand in hand.
These are the brands I use that my mum bought for me to bring back to Canada the last time I visited Mexico. Mother obviously understands priorities.
I’ve been told that these powders and salsas are an acquired taste, that it’s difficult for someone who didn’t grow up eating them to enjoy them. Maybe that’s true, but it begs the question how have so many even made it into adulthood without at least one chili powder-induced belly ache by overdose? It’s like you didn’t have a childhood, people.
Even if you opt out of the chili powders, do give the lovely jicama a try. She’s refreshing in the summer, crunchy and cool, plus it’s full of fiber and vitamin C. To store the leftovers I like to keep them in the fridge inside a container full of water: this takes off a lot of the starch and prevents the strips from drying out.
Eat it alone, Mexican style, shredded in salad, however you want… but eat it, damn it.