Cascade Park

Cascade Park

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Desert Eats

From the reviews that I read, and from the number of people at the restaurant, it would seem that THE place to eat after a visit to the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere is a little restaurant called Itandehui, Flower of the Sky.  It is located in the town of Zapotitlán Salinas just down the highway from the Helia Bravo Hollis Botanical Garden which I wrote about in my last entry.

The restaurant is noted for its use of native ingredients which have been used since pre-Hispanic times... including insects.  I am the sort of person who likes to try the local cuisine, but I draw the line at insects.  This page of the menu was especially unappetizing to me.

First we have "cuchumá" in chile / garlic butter.  "Cuchumás" are the larvae of a butterfly which reproduces on a local shrub known as the "manteco".
Next is steamed "teshcal", another type of insect of some sort.
Third is steamed "cocopaches", bugs that live on the mezquite shrubs.
Finally, we have "gusanos de maguey", caterpillars found in the heart of the maguey plant, a common species of agave (the worm that is sometimes seen in a bottle of mezcal).

Fortunately there were dishes using local ingredients other than insects! 

We started with "agua de pitaya", water flavored with the fruit from one of the species of columnar cactus.  It was quite sweet.

As an appetizer we had "tetechas", the buds of the flower of the "telecho", another species of columnar cactus.  I ordered chicken breast stuffed with cheese and "tetechas" and served in "saleita", a sauce made from the seeds of the "telecho".  Alejandro ordered a pork chop in "saleita".  The tortillas were handmade.  No tortilla press here.   We could hear the clap-clap-clap as the lady in back fashioned the dough between her hands.

I can't say that it was one of my favorite meals in Mexico.  However, the flavors were very interesting, and it was a unique dining experience that I would recommend.  Just stay away from the insects and larvae unless you are really adventurous!

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