Monday 28 December 2009

From south of the border...updated

I received some interesting herb seeds in a swap this week, entirely new to me. I then discovered some similar seeds were available from Realseeds but in the interests of agricultural biodiversity I'm hoping these are a different strain because Riana who sent them to me gives their provenance as direct from Mexico.

They are heat loving annuals or bi-annuals from the Aster family, with distinctive flavours described by one French writer as "strong, ultra-fresh and musky, vaguely reminiscent of coriander, but also ozone". The same writer goes on to suggest that only tiny amounts should be used for fear of overwhelming the taste of the food. Sounds bizarre but as a slow adopter of ordinary leaf coriander (remember when we thought it tasted like the smell of mice?) I'm prepared to give them a go.

Porophyllum ruderale also known as papalo or quilquiña or Bolivian coriander (no relation to true coriander) is a strong growing plant reaching about 1.5 metres. It forms part of the "quelites"; foraged and cultivated greens that are an important part of the diet of the native peoples of Mexico by providing variation in basic staples of corn, beans and squash. Papalo is used for flavouring in salsas and salads and in tacos. It has a golden yellow flower a bit like a marigold and you can see a picture of it on Jim Conrad's site Backyard Naturalist

Porophyllum tagetoides, pipicha or pepicha is used in soups and with courgettes and summer squash. The plant is rather different in habit and flower colour having narrower leaves and (according to Riana) a purple poppy like flower.

I'm not sure which the Porophyllum coloratum is, it certainly looks like Papalo. There seems to be a lot of confusion with mapping these traditional herbs to formal Latin and until I've actually grown out what I have there's not much point in speculation.

Looking forward to growing them immensely but they will need a long hot summer to achieve their full potential in Normandy, so fingers crossed.

NB Post updated as Riana has now closed her blog to visitors so the links were broken.

1 comment:

Rose said...

These sound like interesting varities; I'll be looking forward to seeing how they grow for you and how you use them.