Flower Power: Squash Blossom Is A Sensory Experience
Squash is a contribution of the Americas to the world’s gastronomy. The squash blossom is an essential ingredient in Mexican cuisine, pleasing to sight, smell and taste.
Mexicans serve it in soups, as well as main dishes.
The most popular way to enjoy it is in quesadillas, a tortilla with various fillings. One can find squash blossom quesadillas everywhere, from snack stalls to the country’s largest and most recognized restaurants.
The flower is delicious. Mexicans savor its taste — and its bright orange color. Squash blossom is often an ingredient in creative dishes that seek to attract the diner’s attention.
“The squash blossom is a super-colorful ingredient, and it also gives Mexican food a lot of flavor,” said Rodolfo Vázquez Figueroa, a gastronomy graduate from Le Chef College in Boca del Río, Veracruz.
Eating squash blossom is not a new trend.
The ancient Mexicans’ manuscripts feature representations of the flower. Through these documents, historians know that pre-Hispanic people ate it before the arrival of the Spaniards. The Mexica in central Mexico also used it as a textile dye, as they did with other flowers or insects.
Mexican farmers plant it throughout the year and can harvest it from May to October. It is easy to find at market stalls or chain supermarkets. Mexicans consume it all — from the flower to the stem. They enjoy it cooked or raw.
Squash blossoms are cooked the same day they are bought, as it goes bad quickly. “Because it has a very short life, people always have it fresh,” said Figueroa.
Squash blossom also has a pleasing aroma. “When you cook it in the pan with a drizzle of oil, a few epazote leaves and a pinch of salt, the scent makes your mouth water,” he said.
“I usually have the squash blossom in quesadillas, or stuff chile rellenos with it and Manchego cheese,” said Javier Pichardo Moreno, a department store employee in the State of Mexico.
When cooking it in stews, Mexicans use lots of flowers, as they reduce when cooked. The price of a bunch with five flowers ranges from 15 to 20 pesos ($0.75 to $1).
“People often eat squash blossom, as well as nopales, radishes and ricotta cheese mostly at the snack stalls on every corner,” said Moreno.
Besides being a delight to the senses, the squash blossom is nutritious. It has vitamins C and B, in addition to potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and folic acid.
(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos; edited by Fern Siegel)