los angeles guest suites

 

pom couscous

pom steak

Diverse Worlds Collide Over Flowers

by Evan Kleiman
Print Email

flower.jpgI was still in bed early one morning when I heard “scus me, scus me”.  When I was convinced she wasn’t going to go away I staggered out on my balcony and looked down.  A young Latina woman was looking up at me.  Yes? I asked.  In broken English she asked if she could take some of my yucca flowers.  At this point I have to say I was shocked.  Not shocked that she wanted the flowers, but really surprised that she asked and that this conversation was taking place in the light of day. 

For years roving crews of yucca flower robbers have been plundering my 30’ stands of mature yuccas in the middle of the night.  I’m alerted to them when all the dogs on the street start going nuts. Typically, one guy drives the truck while another jumps out wielding a long stick with a sharp blade at the end.  A long string operates the hooked blade, which chops off the 12 to 15 inch flowers.  Once, I was able to look into the bed of the truck and it was filled with piles of the unique spears of white waxy flowers.

I work with several Central Americans so when this first started I asked them why people were stealing my flowers.  They informed me that the yucca flower is a prized delicacy. The flowers are first boiled to remove some of the bitterness, then most often they’re sauteed with onions and tomatoes and scrambled eggs.

Once as I was driving the streets of LA I actually saw them for sale. A clothes-line affair was anchored by a streetlight and a traffic signpost.  The beautiful yucca flowers were attached by their stems, hanging upside down.  I remember thinking a dollar? They’re only charging a dollar for my beauties? 

But this young woman says she is making them into tamales.  That they’re for the family, but I have a suspicion that some lucky El Salvadoreno or Guatamalteco will be eating very well on the streets of LA all because of an especially enterprising young woman.

 

Evan Kleiman is chef owner of Angeli Caffe, co-author of the classic cookbooks Cucina Fresca, Pasta Fresca and Cucina Rustica and host of Good Food, a radio show which airs on KCRW 89.9fm in Southern California. 

Good Food Website

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Restaurant News

Clementine
Los Angeles
by Laraine Newman

shirley_temple_sm.jpg Clementine, the great west-side L.A. charcuterie has amazing candies, too...

Ok, so I love Shirley Temple.  Anyone who thinks I’m a sap can eat me.  She was a genius.  There’s never been a child...

Read more...
Sir Winston's Restaurant
Los Angeles
by Lisa Dinsmore

hmsqueenmary.jpg This year on my summer vacation I actually played tourist in my own home town. I've lived in Los Angeles for 20 years – never thought I would be here this long – and have pretty much seen/done...

Read more...
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Los Angeles
by Fredrica Duke

wolfsheeptableWhen I first met my husband, I told him that I’m part Native American. I’m also half Jewish. This is when he said to me, “You don’t live on a reservation…you make them.”

I’m sorry, but you will...

Read more...
New Shanghai Seems Like Old Times
Boston
by Kitty Kaufman

playmepianoThings we like about Chinatown: it's close, you can park on the street and there's always adventure. This is one of those days: not only do we park but there's a piano on the sidewalk under the...

Read more...