Shop Latin Bodegas for Fresh Exotic Flavors


Chayote Squash Growing on the Vine

As the US becomes more and more diverse, little Latin bodegas continue to pop up all over the country.  While they are unfamiliar to most, these bodegas offer a range of produce that may not be so common in the regular supermarket, and even quick solutions for dinners that might not be so obvious.  Some of them carry pre-seasoned and prepared meats, that need to simply be grilled, sauteed or broiled.  In the produce section, exotic items offer flavors, textures, and nutritional variety that the regular grocery just doesn't. 

Mamey Sapote is one such vegetable.  Mamey sapote is a fruit.  It is in season June through September.  When ripe, it should feel like a ripe avocado.  It should yield slightly to pressure on the skin.  Its sweet-potato like color and vaguely carrot cake flavored flesh is packed with vitamins A, B6, E, and C, and is loaded with potassium as well.  Its creamy texture lends itself to smoothies, and its good raw alone or in a fruit salad.

Chayote Squash or Christophene is an unusual vegetable vaguely shaped like a fist.  Its flavor is a bit greener than a potato, cucumber-like, with a denser texture.  It is prepared similarly to a squash or a zucchini.  They can even be stuffed like a zucchini.

Boniato, also known as batata, is a tropical sweet potato, a starchy root vegetable.  It oxidizes like a potato when cut, so cooking it immediately or submerging it in cold water is necessary.  It is prepared similarly to a potato as well.  Mashed boniato is a very popular cooking method.

Jicama is an odd and unusual tuber-vegetable.  It is very subtly flavored, but its juicy, crunchy texture makes it an amazing addition to other foods, such as fruit salads, green salads, and Asian cuisine.  It can be served plain, seasoned, raw, cooked, and takes on the flavor of what it is paired with.  It is a wonderful mid-afternoon snack, keeps fairly well in the fridge, and only needs peeling and chopping in order to be ready to eat.

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