Sunday, July 16, 2017


Until the mid '90s I had no idea what a tomatillo was.

One day I was working in southern Natchithces Parish along Highway 1, which runs north and south though the parish.  A Missouri Pacific crew was also working in that area, replacing cross ties.  The cross tie crews at that time were not as automated as they are now, and were comprised mostly of Mexicans.  As I watched, they broke for lunch alongside the tracks and several of the fellow, after lunch, got Wal-Mart bags and started picking a green fruit from the low vines that grew along the rocky railroad embankment.

I had seen these same vines along the tracks, they grew as a weed, and I had noticed the during the early October hunts when we would turn the beagles loose along the tracks.  looking for rabbits in the briars and tangles that grow along the edge of the railroad embankment.  I considered the little plants to be a foot-tangle and tried to avoid them, because I didn't want to be tripped while carrying a loaded shotgun.  But, I had never considered the little fruits to be edible.  Yet, here those Mexicans were picking them and putting them in Wal-Mart bags.

Eventually, my curiosity overcame my laziness, and I got out of cruiser and asked what they were picking.

"Tomatillo, senor." he replied.

"Are they any good?" I asked?

"Oh, senor, they are very good."  He extracted a pocket knife, peeled the husk, and cut a slice, extending it on the edge o the knife.

I took the slice.  "That tastes like a tomato!"

"Oh, yes, senor".  He replied.  "We use them in salsa verde and any dish that needs a tomato flavor.  And, they grow along this railroad very well.  They are a taste of Mexico."

And, that's how I became introduced to the tomatillo.  So, if you're ever walking along a railroad track, keep your eyes peeled for a small vine that looks like a tomato vine.  If you see small fruits like this, pick a few and peel them.

They are very good peeled, washed, and sautee'd with onions and bell pepper.


Dwan Seicheine said...

They taste like unripe tomatoes but more bitterer. Not a fan of em.

zdogk9 said...

As we say here in the Great North West, "They're gooder'n snoose."