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

 

You have no rights to post comments

 

restaurant news

Dr. Cabbage Patch
Los Angeles
by Maia Harari

ImageHeadaches are the worst. And if you don't catch them right when they start, they're hard to cure. I've had one for four days. My mom told me to drink lemonade.

Lemonade?

I've taken naps, sat in...

Read more...
Local Events: Santa Monica’s “SM Pier Seafood” Reopens as “The Albright”
Los Angeles
by The Editors

Albright Outdoor-IndoorLongtime Santa Monica Pier staple, SM Pier Seafood, has officially re-launched as The Albright. After 35 years, the family-owned and operated restaurant has passed down from mother to daughter and...

Read more...
Poke Bar Come to Costco
Northern California
by Amy Sherman

pokebar1One of the many things I enjoy eating in Hawaii is poke. It’s a raw fish dish, that generally combines fresh yellowfin tuna, also known as ahi, with local ingredients like seaweed, Hawaiian salt...

Read more...
The Golden State
Los Angeles
by Laraine Newman

believer2010.gifI recently joined Facebook and that is another story for another time, but its relevant to what I’m telling you because I’ve never made a friend this way until recently.

I was reading my favorite...

Read more...