Frutas y Verduras, Exciting New Field Guide to Mexican Produce in the Works Aguamiel to Host Launch Party

By Amy Cotler

When I heard there was a new Kickstarter campaign to finance an English speaker’s guide to the mysteries of indigenous Mexican produce, I leaped in. Maybe that’s because I’m a culinary professional and long-time local food advocate who has been waiting to be introduced to the unfamiliar produce I’ve spotted around town.

The importance of Mexican foods cannot be overstated. Like the town of San Miguel, Mexican cuisine has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Treasure. My years working with food have taught me that a deeper understanding of local food gives us a richer connection to the place where it’s grown and to those who grow, forage, harvest, and sell it. Eating indigenous foods not only helps support those who sell it to us but preserves the taste of Mexico and its biodiversity. In addition, many of these foods pack a solid nutritional boost. We eat better because of them.

I met Margret Hefner, the guide’s author and a local private chef, at the Saturday market. She impressed me with her deep knowledge of the produce here, some of which is new to even a die-hard foodie like me. There, I saw a sample of her prototype, a user-friendly interactive e-book designed for use on mobile devices. It has clear visual keys to selecting foods—how to tell they’re ripe, whether to peel them, how to use them in a simple recipe, and much more. I was particularly excited by the Spanish audio pronunciation and the rich color slide show on the iPad.

The book’s title is Frutas y Verduras–Guide to the Fresh Taste of Mexico, and its Kickstarter campaign is now in full swing, with a deadline of October 25 to be fully funded. The money will be used for technical support to pull together the work that Hefner has already done researching and photographing produce from all around Mexico. Millions of English-speaking visitors to and residents of Mexico as well as those professionals looking to work with indigenous flavors will find the book useful.

For those unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it’s an online platform to help launch creative projects. If the money required to complete a project is accumulated by the due date—in this case, October 25—it goes toward the project. If not, no funds are collected. If Frutas y Verduras is fully funded, contributors will not only support its completion but will receive the finished project. There are also oodles of well-designed rewards for various contribution levels, including a print of the cover art, designed by local Mexican printmaker Jainite Silvestre. Another reward is the project launch event, a six-course tasting in February at Aguamiel Cocina Rústica. Margret Hefner and chef-owner Gaby Green will prepare a selection of dishes using ingredients featured in the guide. Read more about the campaign and rewards by going to kickstarter.com and typing in Frutas y Verduras.

 

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