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Pataxte

Looks like cacao but isn't.

Looks like cacao but isn’t.

This post is mostly about why you would want to go to the public market with a local — even if you have been going there regularly for two years. The trip today was with Rocio, the 16 year old daughter of Juanita, a person who cleans our house twice a week.

About 10 AM we headed for the market with a reasonable shopping list. Most everything was well-defined except I wrote fruit. Normal as what I buy in fruit is usually a function of what is fresh and cheap. The first fruit purchase was where I tend to buy my vegetables. She had strawberries which looked great for Q4/lb.

After a few other inside purchases we headed out to the sidestreet which is usually the best place to get fresh fruit.

Rocio was excited about leeches so we got a dozen and a couple of small papayas. That seemed like enough fruit but as we were walking past a guy who had what, to me, looked like cacao, Rocio said “¿Te gusta pataxte?” It could have been “What is your favorite planet to visit?” The good news was that there was one of these strange things cut open and she asked if I could have a sample. I don’t know how to describe what it is like but I really like the taste. So, Q8 later, we had a pataxte.

How do you pronounce it? If you can pronounce Xela you are on the right track. If not, pretty much pa-TASH-tee. The name is as strange as the flavor. It turns out that it is a cacao close relative/type of cacao (Wikipedia explains this) and you are effectively eating the pulp you would toss. Rocio says you can dry the seeds and eat them as well.

Two hatchet blows later

Two hatchet blows later

Once we got it to my place the next question was “how do you open it”). It was pretty clear (after a quick test) that you didn’t just slice it open with a knife. I took the initiative and grabbed the pataxte, a cutting board and a hatchet and headed outside. I hit it hard on the first blow and it rolled away. On try two I pretended like I had a block of oak I wanted to split and it nicely broken in two.

I still really like the flavor and I like knowing one more local food — particularly with it’s strange name. Who says old Gringos can’t learn anything from 16 year olds?

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