My mom calls herself a chilanga. The word—slang for a person from Mexico City—is rejected by some, but she owns it. She is, her mom was, her mom's mom was.
I grew up almost exclusively in the United States, where my mom revealed her past in Mexico City like a treasure map. Strange foods and objects would appear on the table or on the kitchen with a sense of mystery, like relic's rescued by Indiana Jones.
One of these memories that is particularly vivid is the flor de calabaza (squash blossom). When I was 10, I came home from school and saw my mom in the kitchen. I walked over to her and saw flowers on the cutting board. I touched the petals and inspected the blossoms, but it seemed like an alien experience. "Are we going to eat these", I asked, bewilderedly. And we did.
We had them occasionally from that point on, especially when they were in season, but the flor de calabaza always captivated my imagination. It felt like a secret expression of the chilanga culture that I never experienced, but was in my DNA. The flavor itself is slightly alien too. The squash blossom is more savory and deep than you would expect a flower to be. The flavor comes close to the squash itself, but it has a delicacy that is unique. Every bite reveals additional layers. The recipe below is for the quesadillas that my mom would cook for us in Laredo (with a Siete twist).
Flor de Calabaza Quesadillas
- 8 oz Oaxaca Cheese
- 1/2 Yellow onion (diced)
- 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
- 15 Flor de Calabaza (cut stems off, discard, then roughly chop flowers)
- 6 Siete Foods Almond Flour Tortillas
- 2 Tbsp of Avocado oil
- Cook yellow diced onion for 5-6 minutes (until sweating) in a pan on medium heat
- Add minced garlic and cook for another minute on medium heat
- Add chopped Flor de Calabaza and coat it with the onion and garlic for 30 seconds on medium heat.
- Heat a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the Siete Foods almond flour tortillas (work in batches).
- Add Oaxaca cheese, vegetables, and flowers on one side of the tortilla, then close and pat down with a spatula.
- Cook quesadilla until lightly browned on both sides.
Tip: Do not wash the Flor de Calabaza, as they will fall apart under water. Instead, check for any debris in the flowers and dust them off with a finger or use a lightly dampened paper towel for problem areas.