Amaranth — the food of the Aztecs


Originally uploaded by napiobai

This is the first post I am composing directly in FlickR— Woot! About eight years ago I planted some red amaranth in my garden. The fully mature red amaranth plant is a showy purple red affair with a large (OK I have to say this) phallic shaped seed cluster that is a brilliant red in October. Red amaranths grow like weeds but they are easy to get rid of where you don’t want them. I have never specifically planted any further red amaranth seeds but some always come up and I always let a few of them grow up. The red seed cluster contains little black seeds that are very nutrient dense. If you’re a glutton for punishment you can cut the stalks and dry them and thresh out the seeds when they are dry. They can be used where you would use poppy seeds, except that they taste better. They can also be popped on a hot comal. They are like teeny popcorn.

The young leaves of the amaranth are also highly nutritious. I was removing some red amaranth from my garden and I took a picture of them for you before I devoured them. They have a slightly bitter and otherwise deliciously nutty taste, and really do wonders for the presentation of a green salad.

The Aztec Indians of Mexico practically treated the amaranth as a deity. It is said that Cortes defeated the Aztecs by destroying their
amaranth fields.

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