Adam, our summer WWOOFer and great garden helper has been exploring the usefulness of papalo, also known as "buzzard's breath." Used like cilantro in Bolivia, where mine came from, and in southern Mexico, it's easy to see (or smell) why it got dubbed buzzard's breath. Just getting near the plant you'll get a whiff of something akin to aluminum with lemony overtones with some rue and other smells thrown in. It's not an easy plant to love and Adam has been concocting recipes to find new ways to use it.

Papalo, also known as Papaloquelite (Porophyllum ruderale or Porophyllum ruderale spp macrocephalum) is used fresh somewhat like cilantro. The friend who brought seed to me a few years back also brought along pepper seed and said the indigenous people he met used the two plants together to make a kind of sauce or salsa they said had been in use since the time of the Aztecs.

Papalo is also commonly eaten raw on cemitas - also known as a cemita poblana, which is a Mexican sandwich and street food that originated in the city of Puebla. Papalo is also sometimes found in guacamole and in Mexico it is used fresh in soups and stews. In Bolivia native Quechua people call it Killi and eat it daily just torn up onto foods.

Papalo Salsa (recipe is from freshcutherbs.com and Herbalpedia)
2 roasted and seeded chopped chilies
2 roasted and seeded sweet green peppers, diced
3 small green tomatoes, diced
4 roasted garlic cloves
6 papalo leaves
½ tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 spoonfuls of minced onion
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and let sit in refrigerator for at least 1 hour
before serving.

I was pleased to find the plant in the markets in Mexico last winter when I visited Acapulco and noticed it is sold is as young, pulled seedlings instead of leaf prunings as you would basil or rosemary. It definitely has better flavor than when you let it get chest high. We've been pruning ours back and using only the newest growth.

Our WWOOFer couple from Des Moines who were here for a week 10 days ago let us know they'd had storms and trees down when they got home. Jeff, who worked hard fixing up the raised beds while he was here and went home and cut up the fallen trees to the point of exhaustion, suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital last week. We wish them well and enjoyed their company while they were here with us in the garden.

1 comment:

Charles said...

I've been growing papalo in my garden all summer and have had no idea what to do with it. Before purchasing seeds, I read that it tastes like cilantro, so I was in for quite a shock the first time I stuck a few leaves on a tomato and ate it. Anyway, I've noticed that when I drink grape juice after eating the leaves, it adds a pleasant citrus taste to the juice. I'm no chef and haven't been interested enough in the plant to do this, but you might try pairing it with various fruits (especially grapes). Just a suggestion.