Eating the World

Prickly Pear Cactus for Sale, and for Dinner

The idea of eating cactus -- a plant covered in spikes -- might cause some to laugh or grimace, or run away. But a true Southwesterner knows that's all a ruse. Just strip off that rough exterior of certain varieties -- and a tasty, okra-like veggie is waiting to be eaten.

Nopalitos, or the small pads of a prickly pear cactus, are, in fact, a staple of Mexican cuisine and can be found in your front yard -- or (don't worry) already prepared at your local farmer's market.

The Santa Cruz River farmer's market in Tucson gained some national attention today for this rather unexpected form of desert cuisine, but something tells us this is not a culinary treat that will be sweeping the nation anytime soon. Though most wouldn't hesitate to drink it in vodka form, maybe you have to have lived through a lifetime of scorching summers to appreciate eating a delicacy that's so seemingly...well, prickly.

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Lauren Gilger
Contact: Lauren Gilger