Everything you ever wanted to know about Pitayas

Today is the last day of May and that can only mean two things:
  1. The sticky, stuffy, can't breathe, eat or sleep heatwave is down to its last weeks.  Rain season should be here soon, offering relief from the unbearable, mid-90 degree temperatures that are the highest temps my small town has seen in 50 years (or so I'm told). 
  2. Pitaya season is also coming to an end.  (Hangs head in extreme sadness)   

What is a pitaya? 
For those of you that are unfamiliar with Pitayas, they are a delicious cactus fruit only available during the hottest month of the year, which happens to be May, where I live. 

Not to be confused with tunas (prickly pears), Pitayas are the sweet, sometimes sour, fruit of the organ pipe cactus, also known as a pitayo  
A Pitayo Cactus

This particular pitayo is located at El Rancho and is at least 100 years old.  During our Semana Santa camping trip, you could already see the pitayas starting to bloom.

Pitayo in bloom

Pitaya Picking 101
Now that you know what pitayas are, you may be wondering how the pitaya gets from the cactus to the market or in my case, my front door. 

Campesinos (farmers/farm workers), wake up before dawn to start picking pitayas.  You see, as the sun rises, the ripe pitayas open up, attracting the attention of the early birds looking for the proverbial worm.  But that old saying has it all wrong.  It should be, "The early bird catches the pitaya."

Pitayas are covered with hundreds of thin, little needles that serve to protect the fruit from birds and animals.  These espinas can make pitaya picking rather difficult.  Most campesinos use a rustic tool that they fashion out of dried reeds.  Locally this tool is called a chicole

Chicole hanging on the wall at El Rancho

Since pitayos can grow to be several meters high, most chicoles are very long.  The tip of the chicole is separated into three or four sections, creating a sort of nest or basket for a single pitaya to fit into snuggly.

Again, organ pipe cacti are very tall and it's darn near impossible for the campesinos who are standing underneath the cactus to see whether or not a certain pitaya is ripe.  A ripe pitaya can be easily plucked from the cactus when touched with the chicole.  Unripe pitayas can't be budged. 

The pitayas are then placed in a large basket and the small group of campesinos head to town in the back of a pick-up truck.  During the drive in to town, the campesinos remove all of the needles from the pitayas.

Basket full of freshly picked pitayas

The pitayas are then carefully stacked inside a large basket called a quilihua and are now ready to be sold to the public.

Quilihua filled with pitayas

Prices vary from town to town.  The average price here is about 5 or 6 pesos per pitaya, which isn't expensive considering all of the hard work involved.  Some pitayeros (pitaya vendors) prefer to sell door to door.  If you happen to be a preferred customer who buys large quantities of pitayas, like 30 to 40 at a time, the price drops down to 3 pesos per pitaya.  Not bad considering that they are delivered right to  my  your front door.   

How to eat a pitaya 
Underneath the hundreds of needles, pitayas are also protected by their cascara (peel).  To eat your pitaya, one must carefully remove the peel.  I say "carefully", because many times you'll find a stray needle or two in each pitaya.

Pitaya con cascara

Removing the cascara is our favorite part of sitting down to enjoy a pitaya.  We are always amazed to see the assortment of brightly colored fruits.  Pitayas come in various shades of yellow, orange, red, purple and pink.  The rarest of all is the white pitaya

As for texture, I liken pitayas to kiwis.  Maybe it's because of the tiny black seeds. 

Pitayas for the most part are sweet.  The first pitayas of the season tend to be more sour, as are the white ones.   It is this blogger's opinion that the yellow and orange pitayas are the sweetest and best tasting pitayas of all.

Pitayas are one of the rare fruits that are eaten without salt and lime juice.  Pitayas can also be used to make agua fresca, sorbet or almibar (syrup) for nieve raspada (snow cones).

And now you know just about everything there is to know about pitayas.

*Note: A very special Thank You to my Hubby, my suegro and my brother-in-law Gerry for sharing this valuable information that they learned from first-hand experience about pitayas.

Stop the insanity!

Albert Einstein once described insanity as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

I've always loved that quote, but never thought that it would ever apply to me.  But this afternoon, I came to the realization that that is exactly what I have been doing this month.     

It's 2:35 pm.  We've finished our lunch.  The kiddies are enjoying their TV time.  And Hubby is fast asleep, taking full advantage of Mexico's 2-hour lunch break.  I am sitting at my computer, reading my emails, catching up with the latest happenings on Facebook and Twitter and getting ready to write a much needed blog post.  As much as I love blogging, I really haven't had much time to write this month.  But today is the day.  I don't care what happens, I am going to write a blog post, TODAY!

I glance over my shoulder and notice Hubby sleeping soundly on the bed behind me.  He looks so comfortable.  I wish I could take a nap too.  I've been up since six and could really use a nap.  It's so hot and my legs and feet are killing me.  It would just be a little nap.  I can blog later.  I know I've said that to myself everyday this month, but this time I really mean it.  I'll find a way to make some time to write a blog post today, even if I have to stay up until after midnight to do so.

As I lay down next to Hubby, I make a mental run through of the rest of my day, trying to figure out just when I'll have some free time to write.
"As soon as I wake up, I have to help the kiddies with their homework.  Then I need to do the dishes and clean the kitchen.  Of course, by the time I'm done, the living room will be a mess, so I'll need to clean that up as well.  Then I need to run next door to the cyber to print something up for one of Hope's homework assignments.  When I get back, I need to make sure all of the kiddies take a shower.  I'll fold and put away the laundry while the kids are doing that.  Hubby's been pretty busy in the shop this week, I'm pretty sure he'll need my help for a little bit.  After that, it'll be time for dinner.  Then I'll need to clean the dining room and kitchen AGAIN.  I should be done just in time to watch Oprah's last show at eight.  I'll send the kiddies to bed at nine and spend a little time with Hubby.  I should be able to get on the computer at around ten.  Not bad.  See?  I can do this!" 
Then of course, my own mind starts to play devil's advocate.
"Leslie, you're gonna be too wound up to write.  Or your brain is going to be completely  fried.  You're going to need to spend at least thirty minutes on Facebook just to relax.  And by then, you'll just be too tired.  You'll go to bed, promising yourself that you'll write tomorrow." 
And that's when it hit me.  I've been doing the same thing, over and over, all month long hoping for  different results.  That's just insane!

So, I jumped out of bed and decided to break the cycle.  It's time to stop the insanity and write that blog post.

And would you look at the time!  If I hit "Publish" now, I can still catch a little shut-eye before 4. 


If you give a kid a camera...

What happens when you let your kiddies use your camera?

I'm not really sure.  But it did involve them dressing up their little brother in various costumes and capturing it all on film! 

No big brothers were harmed in the taking of these pictures.


Spanish Friday: Name That Tune

spanishfridayI'm linking up, once again with my friend Tracy from Latinaish for Spanish Friday.  Don't speak or read Spanish?  Not a problem.  Scroll down for the English version. 

Cuando recién llegue a México, había un programa de televisión que me gustaba ver. Era un programa de concursos que se llamaba Gente con Chispa, conducido por el guapísimo Alan Tacher. En el programa concursaban celebridades como actores de telenovelas, cantantes y deportistas famosos.

Poco tiempo despues, el programa salió del aire y yo ya la tenia olvidada. Hasta el día de ayer. Mi hijo menor encontró el reproductor de MP3 de su hermana mayor. Jack se puso los audífonos y se puso a cantar a todo pulmon. No se le entendía nada de lo que estaba cantando, pero me causaba mucha risa. Ya tenia tiempo que no me reía tanto.

Escuchar a Jack cantar, me recordó de uno de los juegos de Gente con Chispa. En el programa, había un juego donde dos niños de unos 7 a 9 años de edad participaban. Al igual que Jack, se ponían los audífonos y cantaban en voz alta y no se les entendía nada. Los famosos tenían que adivinar que canción estaban cantando. A veces era muy fácil adivinar la canción, pero la mayor parte del tiempo, nadie sabia de que canción se trataba.

Para darles una idea de lo que hablo, pensé que seria divertido jugar a Adivina La Canción con mi hijo, Jack.  Se los deje super facil.  Si no adivinan esta canción, viven en otro planeta o no tienen niños adolescentes en casa.

¿Pueden Adivinar La Cancion?



English Version:

When I first moved to Mexico, there was a t.v. show that I liked to watch.  It was a game show called Gente con Chispa, hosted by the very handsome Alan Tacher.  The competing contestants were celebrities: soap opera actors, singers and famous sports stars.

Some time later, the show was taken off the air and I had completely forgotten all about it.  Until yesterday.  My youngest son, Jack, found his big sister’s MP3 player.  He put on the headphones and started singing at the top of his lungs.  You couldn’t understand a word he was saying, but it was so funny.  I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time. 

Hearing Jack sing, reminded me of one of the games played on Gente con Chispa.  Two little kids, who were about 7 to 9 years old, would put headphones on and sing out loud.  And just like Jack, you couldn’t understand a word the two kids were singing.  The celebrities had to guess what song the kids were singing.  Sometimes it was pretty easy to guess the song, but more often than not, nobody had a clue as to what song they were singing. 

To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, I thought it would be fun if we played a game of Name That Tune with my son, Jack.  I’ve given you a super easy song.  If you can’t guess what song it is, you either live on another planet or you don’t have any adolescent children at home.

So…can you Name That Tune?

blog signature

Mi Mexico Monday: What My Town is Missing

For Mi Mexico Monday, I usually share my favorite places in town, showing you the best of what my town has to offer.  But this week, I'm going to do things a little differently...I'm going to tell you about one thing my town doesn't have.

When I first moved to Mexico, I could not get over the fact that our small town lacked something so vital and important to any city or town, no matter how small.

Are you sitting down?  I sure hope you are because what I am about to tell you is going to come as quite a shock, especially to my friends that live NOB (North of the border). 

My town doesn't have a fire department.


No fire stations.  No firetrucks.  No firemen or women.  

I once asked why we don't have a fire department and was told that it's because the houses here are made of brick and cement, as opposed to the houses in the U.S. that are made of wood and other highly flammable materials.  Brick houses don't burn.  No need for a fire department.

Well, after the most recent fire, which was the 6th or 7th in the ten years that I've lived here, I'd say that theory went up in smoke.