Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cactus Cookery With Frida Kahlo

If you were celebrating Lent and Easter in Mexico, you would be eating a lot of delicious dishes featuring the Nopal cactus, or prickly pear. In Mexico, the tender green thick paddle-shaped Nopal leaves are chopped and sauteed as a traditional Lenten food.

And if you want to have a Mexican culinary celebration this week, you can use one of the handwritten recipes of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954). She is best known her spectacular paintings, especially her self-portraits. But did you know that she also had a talent for cooking Nopal cactus? She did indeed, and I wouldn't be surprised if Easter dinners at the Kahlo-Rivera (as in Diego Rivera, her husband, also a well-known artist) household featured some of her cactus cuisine.

These recipes are reproduced in Barbara Levine and Stephen Jaycox's book Encontrado a Frida Kahlo (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009) - you can see her handwritten recipes there on pages 224-225. Her Nopal Cactus soup features dried shrimp, tomatoes, garlic, onion and eggs - alas, no specific instructions. Kahlo also notes the fixings for a sandwich with Nopal Cactus, cheese with green chile sauce, for fried and breaded Nopales, and for Nopales stuffed with beans.

But if you don't have time to figure out how to make one of Frida's recipes, you can still get all the goodness of Nopal cactus in your diet. Nopalea is a delightful health drink made from Nopal cactus fruit - better known as prickly pear or Indian fig. Its pear-shaped, prickly leaves are full of a juice that has been used as a traditional healing substance for centuries. In Mexico, India and Africa, among other places, indigenous peoples use the nopal fruit as a source of health. It is full of special antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and pain in the body.

Drinking some Nopalea every day is an easy, practical way for you to get all the benefits of the Nopal cactus fruit without having to go to Mexico to get some prickly pear, never mind deal with the prickles. Just think of the extra time Kahlo would have had for art if she hadn't had to chop and fix all those Nopales!

Trivita, the company that makes Nopalea, has been around for 12 years now and has sold over 3 million bottles of Nopalea, which can really help you on the way to health and wellness. It can help reduce inflammation and help your body cleanse itself of daily toxins. I certainly value whole, traditional foods close to their source in nature and think this sounds really good. You can try Nopalea for free ($9.95 for shipping) by calling Trivita at 1-800-203-7063.

P.S. Stay tuned for some more delicious Nopal recipes - in the course of my artistic and culinary research, I found some amazing, sweet cactus treats. I hope you will find them as intriguing as I do!

1 comment:

RetroRuth said...

Very interesting!!! Can't wait to see more!