Yesterday, I asked readers if they could identify the common vegetables that are used in beef soup in Central America. Just as in any region, soup recipes vary from person to person. This is our list recently from a very large pot of soup. From left, green banansa, potatoes, pataste, cayote, carrots and at the very top, yucca.
Pataste is called chayote in Mexico. It is a type of squash. Cayote is smiliar to the sweet potato. These are all root vegetables except the green bananas, which are always an essential part of beef soup. They add a slight touch of sweetness to the broth. Green bananas hold up well in the broth, because they are quite firm. They are very difficult to peel and the skins will permanently leave a black stain on clothes if one is not careful.
In reality, we saved the yucca for another day and ate it fried. If you have never eaten fried yucca, and have the opportunity, take it! It's wonderful. Yucca is sometimes, mistakenly, called cassava or manioc. They are similar plants but not quite the same. What is your favorite veggie, weird or commonplace?