Monday, April 5, 2010

New to Me

I seem to be a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to trying new things. I get excited about finding some exotic new food, only to discover that all of my friends and family have been eating it for years. I imagine such will be the case with my latest discovery. This weekend Mary and I made a day trip to Branson, MO. It’s only a couple of hours from us, so it’s great for a quick getaway.

She took me to a Mexican restaurant she had been to during a conference there last year. Cantina Laredo is an upscale Mexican bistro, doing for Mexican food what PF Chang’s did for Chinese food. It’s located in Branson landing, a trendy outdoor mall of shops on a river walk waterfront of nearby Lake Taneycomo.

It’s a beautiful day, so we decide to sit on the patio and watch the water and fire shows that occur every hour. We place our order and sit back and relax, the breeze gently carrying the sounds of nearby fountains and music. When the food comes, I’m impressed. I ordered mushroom and goat cheese enchiladas in adobo sauce. Good stuff, but not my food trophy for the weekend.

On the side is a small salad of lettuce with a white-fleshed fruit or vegetable of some kind. I poke at it, trying to figure out what it is. I stab a small piece with my fork and take a hesitant bite. It’s a little crunchy, with a mild sweet flavor like an apple or a pear. It’s actually pretty darn good. Even after I’ve finished my enchiladas, I’m still picking at this mystery food. When the waiter comes back, I ask him what it is. He tells me it’s jicama (pronounced “hick-uh-mah”). It’s fabulous.

I’m sure many of you reading this have already experienced the crunchy sweet goodness that is jicama. But for those who haven’t, check it out sometime. It’s high in fiber and a great source of Vitamin C. It’s also fairly low in calories and carbs—about 50 calories and 10 carbs for one cup—making it perfect for a diabetic like myself. And it’s a culinary chameleon, perfect for anything from salads to entrees to desserts. Maybe it’s old news to the majority of folks. But to me, it’s brand new.