Jicama and Other Latino Vegetables
Despite looking like a tan, papery-skinned turnip, jicama, a Mexican tuber ranging from baseball-sized to as big as a bowling ball, is sweet, crisp, and juicy. Its crunchy white flesh is refreshing eaten raw, and goes extraordinarily well with citrus juices. It is one of a number of Mexican vegetables that have made their way into U.S. markets in the last decade. Others include:
Yautia (manioc) and Yuca, starchy roots that are eaten cooked, or ground for flour and used for savory pastries and baking
Aloe, a succulent leaf high in vitamin E, often used for medicinal purposes
Prickly Pears, fruit of a desert cactus, which has become much favored in (would you believe?!) Southern Italy
Plantains, both green (savory) and yellow (sweet). While these starchy relatives of the banana are immature and mature versions of the same fruit, they have completely different characters and uses. Green plantains are used more like potatoes — fried or boiled and mashed with seasonings. Sweet yellow plantains are often a dessert item, or added to stews for a sweet counterpoint.
All of these vegetables can be found in markets in Latino neighborhoods, and are increasingly found at gourmet supermarkets. They can be ordered for delivery anywhere via the Internet. See the Resources Appendix for details on where to find Latino produce.