Brisbane Local Food

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Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus : Nopales -- a celebration. (puntia ficus-indica )

People think I'm mad because I eat cactus.

I'm not some health nut or someone ruled by food shibboleths.

I just love eating cactus paddles.

I grow a spineless form of Opuntia ficus-indica which is the only prickly pear approved for growing  in Queensland.

A Nopales Farm in Mexico

And no one does! There's no market or industry -- not even a secret cactus munching society-- dedicated to the plant.

But in MEXICO! We're talking about a national obsession. 

Nopales Dishes on Display

I'm a rank novice when it comes to Nopales -- prickly pear paddles. There are so many recipes that celebrate the utility of the vegetable in the kitchen.

Given its awesome nutritional profile why not join the Mexicans in adding it to your menu?

As I said I'm a novice when it comes to preparing the paddles.

I had some for dinner scrambled with eggs(pictured at right).

But in Mexico there are so many more recipes.

Unfortunately for us, most of the talk about ,and the many uses of Nopales, is articulated in Spanish.

OK if you are Latin fluent but that's not me.

I've invested in the Googling but 'Nopales+ Prickly pear'  in English gets a very slim recipe result.

But in Spanish, even YouTube is chock full of DIY videos showing the hows and whys.

Whats' wrong with those North Americans?

They've embraced chillies, tacos and beans...why not PP paddles?

Since I wanted to celebrate Nopales I will get around to filming a  video about how I grow and harvest it.

But in the meantime I give you this video about Nopales.

Of course it is in Spanish...but the verve and passion for the paddle is explored through the people who prep and harvest it...and the huge array of  recipes they use to cook it.

Browse the vid. Jump around. You'll be surprised.

I was amazed!

Looks like I really gotta do my cactus homework.

Unlike the Latins I harvest my paddles when very young. There's no tough skin so I can get away with not boiling them.

Since they are spineless and young, I also don't need to trim them.  When the paddles are old,  I do remove the bumps where the spine would be because they are tough. In Mexico they do rely on some very big paddles as indicated in the video.

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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

The Vetiver Community Project is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

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