Foraging for edible plants is an important activity throughout Mexico, and we are lucky that people who do this bring what they don’t use to the regional markets!
Cilantro is a beloved flavor in Mexico… the fresh citrus balances the heat of fresh chiles very nicely. Here are a couple of “cilantros” I have encountered in my travels.
To identify these leaves which I had found at the Thursday Tianguis at Zaachila outside Oaxacaa, I consulted with Chef Alejandro Ruiz of Casa Oaxaca, El Restaurante
I had been told they were “cilantro de montaña” by the vendor, and sure enough, the thick juicy leaves taste like cilantro. But how to use them, I wondered.
Alejandro explained that they come from the Mixteca, a lush mountainous region reachable via Oaxaca City. it was typical there to use them like a tortilla to contain fillings, for maiz-less tacos.
Another discovery was this cilantro, which looked like little water-lily pads — shiny surfaced to resist water, and a long stem. Indeed, they are found at the edges of ponds and lakes as I was told by a vendor in Tepoztlán who referred to the plant only as “Cilantro Criollo”, Criollo referring always to un-cultivated and wild.
Here, I used it to complement apple and cheese on toast.