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Deep Creek Hot Springs

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Desert Food

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May 22, 2005 12:38PM
................Participants in the weekend class were given a crash course on the edible plants of the desert and how American Indians prepared them Saturday. They were to camp out in Joshua Tree before feasting today.

Trent Taylor, a writer and repairman in Twentynine Palms, said trying some unusual food would add a little flair for those accustomed to the same old supermarket diets.

"It adds to the mix,' he said, "Everybody can count the vegetables they eat on their hands. That's all we eat. There's no variety.'

Taylor has made tea with ocotillo blossoms and said the fruit from Joshua trees, while bitter, goes well with salads or stir fry. While Taylor has at least some experience with desert cuisine, for most class participants this stuff was new beans or new Yucca whipplei, to be precise.

As his students de-stemmed yucca flowers, pounded away at acorns and Hollyleaf cherry pits and washed the bulbs of Blue Dick flowers (Indian potatoes), Pink said he hoped his class would learn "not to be afraid of plants.'

"We're so used to going in and buying things in wrappers and jars with USDA stamps on them,' he said. "We've become afraid to go pick something off the vine and eat it.'

Pink f requently leads classes on American Indian skills.

He said today's meal would include pine nut soup, Indian potatoes, yucca, acorn mush, and Holly-leaf cherry mush and that it would be prepared over an open flame in a roasting pit.

Saturday, some class participants also sampled ground chia seed, which, Pink said, provided a stimulant similar to caffeine.

They also snacked on slices of raw yucca. It had the taste and texture of something between a cucumber and jicama.

Pink said the plant uses its water well. When it rains, the yucca can grow as much as a foot a day, he said.

"A foot in a day?' asked a surprised Phil Halvorson of Palm Springs.

"At least that, if not more,' Pink said. "They just wait for their moment and they get the water and they take off.'

Pink promised a tasty meal.

"If anyone complains, we'll just take them downtown and buy them a nice dinner,' he said......



Desert Food

katrina island 1664May 22, 2005 12:38PM

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