Virtual Prickly Pear Festival, ABQ

The Second Prickly Pear Festival

We attended the Virtual Prickly Pear Festival that was held in Albuquerque on Saturday, September 12. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. This Festival featured prickly pear so how could I go wrong. I figured I would check it out this year with the intention of going to the real festival next year. We attended this event from 10 to 4:20. For our donation of 10 dollars apiece plus a 50 cent service charge from Eventbrite, I though I got a real good deal. Of course, you could donate more money if you wanted. The donation would help the Three Sisters Kitchen, a non profit and COVID-19 Emergency Response for the Navajo (Dine) Nation. So all in all it was a great deal.

There was also a drive-thru or a walk thru market in Albuquerque on Gold and 3rd streets. You could pre-order or go there the day of the event. I stayed home this year but hopefully we all will be able to participate next year.

The Zoom feed started promptly at 10am. There was a demonstration about how to pick the prickly pear fruit off of a cactus. The presenter was Peggy Sue Sorensen of The Desert Kitchen. I learned that I will never, ever go out into the wilds of New Mexico to pick this fruit. First, rattled snakes like to hide in this plant. Second, there are tiny barbed bristles on the fruit called glochids. Not for me!

Here is a video of Ms. Sorensen in action at the Prickly Pear Fest in Arizona last year.

Next, Cindy Davies from Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension of NMSU showed how to make prickly pear jicama pickles. These pickles reminded me a of the new big thing: watermelon radishes. As you know I love pickles so this was very interesting to me. Cindy used jicama and prickly pear syrup that she made. I would buy my syrup at the store. That’s why we have stores for people like me who will not deal with rattlesnakes or tiny spines. I do appreciate that some people love to use native plants and harvest them. Just not me.

My other favorites were a salad made with cactus by Chef Lois Ellen Frank and Chef Walter Whitewater of Red Mesa Cuisine. They also had another cooking demonstration using prickly pear syrup with salmon. I have wanted to see Chef Lois Ellen Frank for years. She is a noted Chef using Native American foods. She is the person who is bringing Native American Cuisine to prominence. She also has a Ph.D. in Culinary Anthropology . Wow!!! and a Chef too.

I also was very interested in Jessica O’Brien from Sister Bar. Jessica was using prickly pear syrup and the fruit as a garnish for her cocktail demonstration. She was also using Pisco with Prickly Pear. I thought she would talk about making a margarita but making a Pisco Sour with prickly pear was interesting as well. Pisco is a brandy that is popular in Peru and Chile. We were introduced to Pisco at Don Quixote Distillery just north of Santa Fe a couple of years ago. Sadly, this distillery has closed.

The Prickly Pear Market

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