ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Food and Cooking»
  • World Cuisines»
  • Central American Cuisine

Purslane, the Noxious Weed That Mexicans (and Others) Love

Updated on October 10, 2015

Verdolagas according to Hispanics

Source

An Invasive Weed? No, It Is Good to Eat According to Daniel

This morning after having my morning cup of java and taking the dog for a walk, my wife served breakfast and we relaxed for a few minutes before beginning the projects of the day. The gardener was due in a few minutes, so I went outside to look at the yard and the garden. There they were again, those invasive weeds with the little yellow flowers, the ones that the Greek lady yesterday had called glistritha. I decided to ask the gardener about them when he showed up.

My gardener goes by the name of Daniel and he had told me that when he was a child, his family had emigrated from the State of Michoacan in Mexico. His English was perfect and he had several years of college where he had studied agriculture. He is a really nice man, always on time, does a good job, cleans up the mess; he is someone that I would highly recommend. After looking around, I went back into the house to get a refill for my coffee mug. Sure, enough, as I puttered around the living room, I could hear the sound of a diesel truck.

Right on time, Daniel arrived in his new Dodge diesel truck with a young boy. They got out of the truck and immediately got started on the mowing; I assumed that the boy was Daniel's son, "he knows how work just like his dad," I thought to myself. I did a few chores inside the house and then headed outside. As soon as I got outside, Daniel introduced me to his son, Armando, and as I watched Daniel and Armando put their lawn equipment into the truck and then started on the flower beds in front of the house. I noticed that most of the weeds went into a weed bucket similar to mine, but I also noticed that he was putting some of the weeds into a bag that he had around his middle. The boy was trimming the bushes with shears while Daniel worked on the weeds. After watching for a while, I finally meandered over to where Daniel was working and asked him, "Daniel, why are you putting some of the weeds into that bag? What are they"? Daniel replied, "the weeds are verdolagas, my wife puts them in the green sauce for my chile verde." He showed one of the weeds to me and I recognized it immediately and cried out with the only Greek word that I know, "Oh, it is gree-stree-tha." Daniel looked puzzled so I added, "that is what the Greek lady from down the street calls it." Daniel replied, "we call it verdolagas where I come from and everyone eats it, it is very healthy."

Soon, the work was done, Daniel and Armando took off for their next job, and I headed into the house determined to find out more about the noxious weed, gristritha or verdolagas, whatever it was called. I had a suspicion that there might be another name for the weed in the English language.

This vignette is the second in a group whereby I came to an appreciation of the so-called weed, Purslane, as a very valuable addition to my salads and other food dishes that I eat. It is valuable primarily because of its benefit to my health and also because, being wild and cultivated it is easy to locate and harvest. I list the additional vignettes below:

Vignette 1: Purslane, The Incredible Edible Weed

Vignette 3: Purslane, Discovering Some Other Names For This Noxious Weed

Mother and Child, Millstone of Australian Aborigines used in grinding Purslane seeds

Source

More About the Characteristics of Purslane: First As a Friend To the Cook

  • The invasive characteristics of the wild variety of Purslane have been well documented, it grows everywhere it can find a friendly environment, bar none. But, so far we have not looked at the culinary characteristics of the plant; this will be a long continuing journey because almost every culture (except of the American farmer and gardener) in the world appreciates Purslane; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one might find Eskimos eating purslane in the difficult agricultural environment of Alaska. The photo to the right is taken of an Australian Aborigine millstone for grinding seeds for bread, among them, Purslane seeds found in the Australian bush.
  • That reminds me of a story about eating greens. Years ago, I was taking a graduate class in "Principalship" planning to ultimately obtain an administrative credential as an educator. The class was taught by a very interesting professor who had quite a background. He attended LSU for his B. A. degree, but was also an All American on their football team. He was drafted by the professional Rams football team and had a few years in their defensive backfield when the Korean conflict started. He soon found himself in the cockpit of a fighter aircraft over Korea due to his ROTC requirements. He was shot down and ended up in a North Korean prison camp. All around him men were dying as a results of their wounds, initially, but he noticed as time went on that many American prisoners became malnourished and died as a result of the poor diet. But the Turkish prisoners, excepting the ones who died from wounds, did not die even though they ate the same poor diet with its lack of nutrients, as the American prisoners. My professor noticed as he watched the Turks,that they ate almost anything green that poked its head up above the ground, so he followed suit. He survived in the camp for three years, was finally released, and then returned to the backfield of the Rams. He then told the class that he got to thinking that playing football was not good for his physical future, so he returned to Louisiana, completed a PHD program and ultimately ended up as a full professor in education department of the university.
  • Purslane fits into the genre of greens that poke their heads above the ground, something to quickly grab and eat is you find yourself in a prison camp. Our friends on the Wikipedia venue state that:

Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it may be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the middle east, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews. Australian Aborigines use the seeds to make seedcakes. Greeks, who call it andrakla (αντράκλα) or glystrida (γλυστρίδα), fry the leaves and the stems with fetacheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil, add it in salads, boil it or add to casseroled chicken. In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach. In Albania it is called burdullak, and also is used as a vegetable similar to spinach, mostly simmered and served in olive oil dressing, or mixed with other ingredients as a filling for dough layers of byrek. In the south of Portugal (Alentejo), "baldroegas" are used as a soup ingredient.

  • Can you imagine a plant being called a weed that does all of the above. Everywhere in the world except the United States, the plant is food and medicine and is commonly eaten in many different ways. Makes one wonder, how long have the aborigines of Australia been harvesting Purslane for Bush Bread (seedcakes) and I wonder what they have named the plant, that might be another quest for my to do list: find out the aborigine name for Purslane? I found a link to a site, I Dig My Garden, that has an on-going discussion about harvesting Purslane seeds (poor writing, but good information). An interesting fact is that the name for Purslane in Australia tends to be Pigweed; here in the United States (in the South)k, Pigweed is the term used for a variety of Amaranth. Incidently, Pigweed in the South (United States) has involved to one of the most invasive plant imaginable as a result of using Roundup Ready cotton plants.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)