Pumpkin seeds are found loose and packaged in kiosks, road stands, markets and grocery stores, flavored or plain for that perfect afternoon. Want to make your own? Just spread the pepitas on a baking sheet, sprinkle with cumin, chile powder, lime, salt and oregano and bake in a 350-degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes.
Do you remember the craze of late night TV during the 70’s and 80’s, the Chia Pet? The company is still around, and these fad ceramic figurines depicting rams, pigs, gators and more are rubbed with one of the fastest sprouting seeds (salvia hispanica), watered regularly and originally made in Mexico.
Breadnut (ramón) is commonly used as a staple crop in Mexico. It is in the fig-mulberry family with large edible seeds that are high in vitamins A, C, iron and zinc. The tree’s nuts, with its slight chocolatey flavor, can be roasted and used as a coffee bean substitute or ground into meal.
Peanut (cacahuate) can be cooked, dried or roasted and often crushed on top of many regional dishes, for added crunch. Not a single grocery store aisle is exempt from bags of cacahuates, shelled, unshelled, sprinkled with chile powder, doused with lime juice or encased in a crunchy shell (Japanese style). Try them in a crispy brittle with caramel.
The center of Mexico’s wheat (trigo) production, the most important crop in the north central corridor, is the Bajío region. Mexico’s wheat consumption is expected to increase in the coming year due, in part, to the ongoing popularity throughout Mexico of bread products, as it is evident in the myriad of baked goods readily available on every street corner.
Pecans (nuez) continue to be one of the most significant tree nuts in Mexico. Cultivated in Morelos and Jalisco, as well as Puebla and Mexico City, they are often eaten spiced, dusted with cinnamon, dipped in chocolate or encrusted in sugar. Lagging behind pecan production, but still popular, are the cultivation of macadamia, pistachio, walnuts, pine nuts and almonds.