L265: Leucasena (Guaje)

Apologies for practically phoning this in . . . There isn’t much personal testimony for this pod food. I liked it, it intrigued me and I must try to grow it. Like flax I could see it as a ubiquitous addition to most every meal.

Glossary: guaje
Long, flat, green pods filled with seeds about the size of a small lima bean and used in Latin American cooking. The pod and seeds have a garlicky quality, and fresh pods are often chopped up and used to flavor various dishes. When the pods dry and turn brown, the seeds are scraped out and can be eaten raw or added to salads or cooked dishes. Roasting the seeds lends a nutty quality, which makes them delicious as a snack. They're also often ground and used as a thickening for cooked sauces. Fresh or dried guaje (also spelled cuaje and huaje) can be purchased at Latin American markets. In Southeast Asia, guaje pods are known as wild tamarind.

A multipurpose tree with extremely wide range of uses, based on naturalized and cultivated stands throughout tropics and subtropics. Uses of wood include fuelwood, lumber, pulpwood (paper, rayon), craftwood and charcoal. Uses of foliage include animal fodder, green manure and food (juvenile shoots). Feeding can be unrestricted to ruminant animals, but must be re-stricted to poultry and non-ruminants, where it is often used for its high contents of Vitamin A and protein. Uses of legumes and seeds include animal fodder, tea, medicinal and food (juvenile beans). Trees are used as ornamentals, windbreaks, shade trees, sources of green manure, and as stabilizing hedges on hillslopes. Gum is used as a substitute for gum arabic; seeds are strung into leis and jewelry; poles are used to prop bananas or crops like beans.

Mexico and Central America, origin obscured by wide distribution by man; Oaxaca translates "the place where huaxin (leucaena) grows."
Opening a pod and peeling off the seeds to eat reminds me of candy buttons

The pods and the stringy pod borders were too tough to just chew raw. The seeds were very pleasant in my salads, as a snack and in hot dishes. Here is another food I could eat year round.

This is my ongoing move towards learning the native foods of the region. Here are a few in a beautiful photograph. Amaranth and cactus aren’t included here.

Ancient Foods
Included are the Garambullo cactus, black sapote, mesquite, hog plums, corn, white wapote, chiles, guaje and acorns.

Further information from THE NEW FOOD LOVERS COMPANION, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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