Sunday, October 18, 2009

Root causes

"Even the starchy tuberous roots are also edible, but are more often fed to livestock"

This stark piece of misinformation cropped up in Victoria Stone's article about the guiskil in last month's Revue.

In fact the root, known here as echintal (or ichintal), is by far the best bit — a comparatively rare and pricey delicacy ideally disinterred after 2-3 years of production...y hecho con mucho cuidado.

In texture like a mix of potato and yuca, but with a nuttier, more intense flavour than either, echintal has become one of our favourite ingredients in the kitchen.

How many better places can there be than Guatemala for buying (or growing), and cooking your own food?

Yet over at Guate Living el termómetro en el trasero de la vida gringa en la Antigua — we have been shocked to find the suggestion that meticulous locals will take their ceviche with a prophylactic of antibiotics, and that manitas shucas (almost exlusively of the Guatemalan kind) are the root cause of the regular unscheduled trips to the crapper that appear to afflict the more delicate members of the ex-pat community.

Whilst the occasional intestinal storm is almost unavoidable for those of us bearing bacteria in our gut that — however friendly — have yet to master the local lingo, we have found that we rarely suffer from the runs when we prepare our own comida at home.

Failing that, we recommend that concerned readers kit out each of the maids preparing their gringo grub with PVC gloves, face masks and hair nets, if not indeed a sealed head-to-toe anti-microbial body suit. (NB: The mask is to prevent them from spitting in your soup.)


korey said...


AntiguaDailyPhoto.Com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AntiguaDailyPhoto.Com said...

@Korey +1 (ditto) or better yet, Qué golazo. ;-)

Expat Mom said...

I actually found you through GuateLiving. :) I usually eat at home myself, but sometimes I fall prey to the lures of street food (which is often so good it's almost worth the occasional tummy upset!). Still, I'm thinking you just need to use common sense . . . raw fish has never seemed a great idea to me, particularly when sitting out in the sun. And if "Guatemalan" hands are shucas . . . well, no one has seen my 2 year old's hands when he passes me tortillas from his abuelita. :D

El Blogador said...

There are two guys who come round every Monday and sell fish (shark usually) and prawns to any willing householders in the area. We used to buy fish from them, but have stopped recently. We never got sick but you only had to take note that a) it was Monday and b) they had been carrying the fish around in the morning sunshine for several hours that it was a slightly risky purchase!

Simple precautions are usually adequate. The last time I was seriously sick (to the point of needing meds) was when I drank some pozol in a market in Chiapas last Feb...and I knew almost at once that I'd be in trouble for that.