In the Little Stalls Behind Canino's: Papalo
Photo by Robb Walsh
After the item about the Mexican herb chepil appeared, Tracy Lee Vaught, of Backstreet Café and Hugo's, emailed me. "Next time you are at the market, pick up some papolo and put it in your tacos. It is quite peppery," she wrote. "Hugo uses the chepil in his rice when he can get it."
In fact, I saw the herb called papalo when I was roaming the stalls behind Canino's. The name papalo comes from papalotl, the Nahuatl word for butterfly. The thin, crisp leaves are often sprinkled on guacamole tacos. Papalo leaves are also traditional on the sandwich called a cemita poblana, a Puebla specialty made on a sesame roll with sliced meat, avocado, tomatoes and red salsa. Papalo grows wild in Mexico. The plant can also be found in West Texas.
When I asked the lady selling papalo at the market what it tasted like, she told me to pull off a leaf and eat it. The flavor reminded me of the edible flower nasturtium.
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