September 17, 2005

Flor de calabaza


The other day, I left work early enough before the sun set and found myself further down Mission St in my old neighborhood. It was still early enough to catch one of my favorite markets, Evergreen, before they closed.

I love Evergreen! It's an Asian-owned grocer that sells a little bit of everything: produce, sundries and snacks. They're also a butcher, but I don't generally shop here for meat purposes. Some of the things I primarily like about Evergreen, is their produce is quite fresh, they sell an array of Brazilian and Asian items outside of the ubiquitous Mission market fare, and they have a nice fresh cheese case. Not to mention they carry a good selection of Cuban, Puerto Rican and Brazilian coffees --- AND sweetened condensed milk. I certainly get my Vietnamese Coffee swerve on here. It's empowering...

The main mission was to get some greens for my "girls" (the guinea pigs that is), and figured I could get some herbs & veggies and call it a day. Well, well, to my delight there were packages of fresh squash blossoms for sale. I was confounded at first. Picked them up and studied them, waiting for some genius recipe to hit me or something.

A latin woman, near me, noticed me staring at the blossoms and asked her daughter to ask me what I planned on doing with them. I told her I might stuff them with cheese and deep fry them. She then excitedly told me she enjoys them fresh, with a little chopped onion, epazote, chilies and queso in a quesadilla. Ding!! My alarm went off. That's exactly what I'll have.

I continued to chat with her in my horrible broken Spanish, but understood the basics:

Flor de calabaza quesadillas

- epazote (a Mexican herb) >> check!
- flor de calabaza (said squash blossoms) >> check!
- saboyas (onions) >> check!
- queso (I got me some queso cremoso - cream cheese) >> check!
- chilis >> check!
- corn tortillas >> check!

Hee hee.. I gleefully head home and await the power of squash blossoms to unfold their secrets to me.

I gently wash my blossoms and pat them dry. I did a bit of Googling on their preparation, and am advised to cut the green stem off, leaving the base intact, and remove the outer peak-shaped tips near the base.

Now onto prepare the quesadilla. Hot pan, lightly greased, tortilla, cheese, chopped epazote & onions, fresh squash blossoms torn, and one more tortilla. Grill till cheese is melted and tortilla is browned. Enjoy!

Very simple and delicious. The flavor is a gentle hit of squash, with the cheese and epazote coming up from the background. The important thing, I've discovered, is not to salt these much (or at all) and use only the faintest of condiments if you must. I had a dab of hot sauce, as I forgot the chilis, which rounded the flavor just a touch.

I might add I had these for breakfast, which intuitively seemed the best time of the day to enjoy them. Lovely and amazing! I now have a bowlfull of these blossoms left, in which I may really try stuffing them and light frying them crisp. Hopefully that's another post.

Evergreen Market
groceries from Mexico, Central & South America, and Asia
2539 Mission St @ 21st St
San Francisco, CA

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