Juan of Words

Cooking with Nopales: An Acquired and Emotional Taste

Nopales for cooking
Prickly pear tunas y nopales by Al_HikesAZ.

Nopales con huevos.  Nopales with meat.  Nopales with chile.  Nopales by themselves.  At our house they were always a staple of our cuisine.  At least for my parents, they were a vital part of the Mexican diet.  If we didn’t have anything else to eat, a couple of nopales and some tortillas could go a long way.  Believe you me.  But most days, for us kids, nopales didn’t really awaken much of an appetite in us.

We would have much rather have had chorizo, picadillo, fideo, or in my case especially, homemade chicken fried chicken.  That was and still is my absolute favorite homemade dish.  It’s so good when battered with eggs and flour!

Nopales on the other hand were just too babosos for my taste.  They were slimy when cooked in a pan and that just grossed me out.  I was the same way about menudo and anything else that felt like it was moving once inside my mouth.

Despite my less than delectable first experiences with nopales as a child, I’ve somehow managed to acquire a taste for them as an adult.  They’re definitely not my first choice, but every now and again I do crave them.

I’m starting to think those cravings have less to do with my appetite and more and more to do with my heart and the emotional significance I’ve assigned to nopales.

Nopales by Claudia A. De La Garza


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