a-jicama

The crunchy, colorless flesh of this indigenous root vegetable isn’t exactly exciting to the tongue. But it is certainly chameleonic, surprisingly adept at absorbing and relaying surrounding flavors.

Dubbed the Mexican potato or turnip, it tastes like a cross between an apple and a spud or a water chestnut. Low in sodium and calories and high in vitamin C and potassium, Vallartenses eat it in salads, stews, as a crudité, and in myriad other incarnations.

Some snazzy local eateries shave it paper thin and then stuff it with something wonderful like marinated tuna or asparagus. A novel idea, right? Well, not really, shaved jicama being one of the traditional offerings to the departed on Mexico’s elaborate Day of the Dead altars.

The number one way for the living to enjoy it here, however, is as street fare in a plastic bag, with a squirt of tangy lime and a dusting of chili powder. High in water content, jicama makes a refreshing companion on hot summer days.