Today marks the Spring Equinox, and the ancient herb epazote comes to light.
My encounter with epazote was on the Mayan trail from Mexico to Central America. While in Mexico, I witnessed the equinox at the pyramid dedicated to Kukulcán. That late afternoon, as I savored a much-needed protein packed “mole de epazote” a rich stew made from goat meat; I observed the sun creating the illusion of a snake creeping slowly down the northern staircase. Symbolically, the feathered serpent joins the heavens, earth, and the underworld, day and night.
Origins & History
The name epazote derives from words in the Nahuatl language of Mexico and Central America. There are many varieties of epazote, and the one that features most in Mexican and Central American cooking is a profusely branching annual that grows to 2-4 feet with either green or deep purplish leaves. The serrated leaves have a less than pleasant aroma and unusual taste that one becomes acquired to in much the same way as coriander leaf.
Uses & Vitamins
Epazote is generally used fresh in cooking, compliments any bean dishes, Mexican casseroles, tortilla, and red meat. It is a strong flavor herb, and too much can spoil the taste of a meal. It is reputed to control gas in a diet rich in beans and has vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, B-complex and vitamin C as well as zinc, potassium, calcium, manganese, and phosphorous.
Here at my farm epazote is a volunteer in the garden and lover of the fertile soil. It's readily available in most Mexican and Caribbean stores and has become naturalized in New York City backyards, where it grows in the wild.
Tonight, I will be having a Spring Green Posole (pictured below), as I sky gaze the Spring blood moon, or “full worm moon” dubbed by Native Americans since it appears when the ground begins to soften, and earthworm manure starts to surface. Hope for a prosperous Spring!
(below we were profiled in the Hudson Valley Magazine - Vegetarian issue)