Remember the papalo? Today I ran into the farmer who grew mine, which reminded me I needed to update you.
I guess we Anglos don’t immediately take to the stuff, as evidenced by one writer’s referring to it as the wet dog herb and another saying it smells like gasoline. I can’t say that either of those scents came to my mind when I broke a piece of papalo, but, as I previously mentioned, it is strong stuff.
My last and best experiment with papalo was on beans and rice with lots of salsa and crumbled feta. I got bold this time and chopped a couple of stems-worth of leaves (see below), but I carefully sprinkled it on top, just in case it overwhelmed the dish the way it overwhelmed plain tomatoes and a pasta dish. I figured if the papalo still didn’t suit me, I could pick it off when no one was looking.
But—eureka!—papalo clearly is meant to be paired with hot peppers. It complemented the salsa, beans, cheese and rice, and I wound up mixing it right in.
One of these days I may have to try the epitome of papalo use (at least as far as I’ve been able to determine): cemitas. These sandwiches, a specialty of Puebla in Mexico, seem to require papalo to be authentic. You can find a recipe at Epicurious, and btorillo has an appetizing photo of one on Flickr.
If I understood Bob correctly, he pulled up the remaining papalo, so I won’t be using it again this year. And if he has it next year? Well, I may just have to try a cemita.