Tucson, AZ—This holiday season, consider giving a gift that celebrates one of the unique flavors of the desert. Eat Mesquite! is a new cookbook featuring nearly 50 recipes using mesquite flour.
The cookbook was published by Desert Harvesters, a nonprofit volunteer-run, grassroots group that promotes the harvest of native, wild, and cultivated desert foods and also advocates for the planting of indigenous, food-bearing shade trees within rainwater harvesting “gardens.” Desert Harvesters puts on annual mesquite milling events, including the popular Mesquite Milling and Pancake Breakfast Fiesta, which takes place every November in the community garden of the Dunbar/Spring neighborhood near downtown Tucson.
The group realized the public was hungry for a cookbook after watching its milling events triple in attendance in recent years. In 2009, they served over 1500 pancakes to hundreds of people.
For Eat Mesquite! a committee of volunteer cooks tested and tasted over 150 mesquite recipes—everything from beer to dog biscuits—all contributed by community members. The committee’s main goal was to celebrate the many ways mesquite enhances both the flavor and the nutritional value of foods. They also strived to represent a wide range of foods (sweet and savory, snack and substantial) and offer options for cooks of all levels of experience, said Lori Adkison, a member of Desert Harvesters and one of the cookbook’s main organizers.
The recipes in Eat Mesquite! are organized into Breakfasts; Savory Dishes & Sides; Breads & Crackers; Spread, Sauces & Syrups; Sweets and Drinks. The book also shares a handful of recipes using other native foods, such as prickly pear fruit, that compliment foods made with mesquite, as well as information about the culinary and medicinal uses of mesquite and tips for harvesting, milling, and cooking with it.
Amy Valdés Schwemm, another main recipe tester and owner of Mano y Metate, which makes freshly-ground moles, points out that mesquite is a friendly desert food, easy to harvest with limitless possibilities. “Mesquite is what gets people hooked on wild foods. You start with chocolate-y desserts, then keep going from there!”
Lucky for readers, Eat Mesquite! comes complete with recipes for chocolate-y desserts.
Eat Mesquite! is available locally for $20 at the following locations:
In Phoenix at the Phoenix Downtown Public Market
In Tucson at Antigone Books, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s Mountain House Gift Shop, (farmers’ market booths of Jeau Allen/Skeleton Creek and Martha Ames Burgess/Flor de Mayo), Native Seeds/SEARCH, Originate Natural Building Showroom, Revolutionary Grounds Books and Coffee, Tohono Chul Park, and Tucson Audubon Nature Shop.
It can also be ordered online at www.DesertHarvesters.org where 100% of the proceeds go toward funding Desert Harvesters’ community efforts.