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A Curious Eater's Guide to the Ancient and Wild Foods of the Sonoran

Chris Malloy's guide to exploring plants of the Sonoran Desert at local eateries (and a chocolate shop)

"Some of these foods are farmed — and can be provided predictably in large quantities. Because the foraging climate shifts with the hours, days, weeks, and years, wild foods are more volatile. Some ingredients appear for just a few days a year." Click HERE to read the whole story.

"Barel Cactus: Stout and pumpkin-shaped, barrel cactus sprouts waxy yellow fruit in early spring. These oblong fruits cluster at the top, each looking like a skinless pineapple. They taste like lemon or yuzu, but dim. Twila Cassadore, a Western Apache foods activist, likens the flavor more to squash. For centuries, the Western Apache have used barrel cactus fruit. Cassadore serves a barrel cactus salsa with desert woodrat. She uses their coal-black seeds as a wide-ranging topping. They recall black sesame seeds, partly due to their crunch.

Where to taste: Try the seeds at Zak’s Chocolate in Scottsdale, where Jim and Maureen Elitzak deploy them for texture in a 70 percent cacao bar. Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper has used the fruit in desserts like semifreddo and lemon meringue pie."

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