The jicama’s crispy white flesh is hidden under a fibrous dustbrown skin, which must be completely stripped off.
The jicama is a rather humble vegetable, quite homely in appearance. For some reason, it is never described for itself but always compared to something else. It doesn’t even get much credit for its own crisp, just sweet enough taste. It is characterized as a cross between an apple and a potato, yet nothing is quite like the jicama. The jicama is a member of the morning glory family, hailing from Mexico and South America. A cousin of the sweet potato, this underground tuber comes in two types: agua (watery juice) and leche (milky juice). Like most fruits and vegetable in stalls on the sidewalks of San Pedro, jicama is a street food in its native habitat, sold with a squeeze of lime and a shake of fiery chili powder or habanero pepper. A local treat most Belizeans call “hol choch” or “salpicon”, it is a must try for all those who crave a sour and spicy snack, or for someone wanting to try something different. Its crispy white flesh is hidden under a fibrous dust-brown skin, which must be completely stripped off. Like potatoes, jicamas can be steamed, baked, boiled, mashed or fried. Unlike potatoes, however, they can also be eaten raw. Sliced into wide sticks, jicama makes a crunchy carrier for guacamole and highly seasoned dips. Cut up into squares, it enhances fresh fruit salad, absorbing and reflecting surrounding flavors.

Once peeled, the jicama is cut and prepared with a squeeze of lime, salt and fiery habanero pepper. Perfect for those craving a sour and spicy snack.
The crop is cultivated in warm climates, grown in rows from seeds, and within a year this vine is harvested for its large taproot. The jicama plant is a vine which grows to a length of 20 feet or more. The roots are light brown in color, and may weigh up to 50 pounds. Most of those on the market will weigh between one to five pounds. Jicamas, like most other root crops, will store for relatively long periods of time in the refrigerator. When purchasing them from the stalls look for the medium-sized jicamas with smooth, unblemished skins. The crop is also a good source of potassium and Vitamin C. Low in starch and calories, jicama is satisfying and flavorful. Look for them at your local street vendors or you might be lucky to bump into someone who sells them whole, unpeeled and unseasoned. Join us next week for another San Pedro Street Treat!

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