I present to you the the güisquil root, a Guatemalan seasonal delicacy. The güisquil, Sechium educe, is usually the dark green pear squash, the lighter yellowish pear squash is known perulero in Guatemala. Ichintal is the name of the root of the plant that produces Sechium educe also known as chayote, perulero, güisquil, huisquil, wiskil, chuchu, chaya, pataste, cho-cho, and pear squash, vegetable pear, tayota, sayote, in other parts of the world. The better known word chayote is a Spanish derivative of the Nahuatl word chayohtli.
Güisquiles are such an integral part of the Guatemalan diet that sometimes you find it in the most unusual dishes. Güisquiles are also very important vegetable from the milpa crop as mentioned by Charles C. Mann in his book 1491.
You can find güisquiles in caldos, in Guatemalan chilaquiles, which basically are two slices of güisquil with a piece of cheese between the slices and then wrapped with egg batter and fried.
Although most people are familiar only with the fruit as being edible, the root, stem, seeds and leaves are edible as well. The tubers of the plant are eaten like potatoes and other root vegetables, while the shoots and leaves are often consumed in salads and stir fries.
Ichintal is the name for the pear squash root we use in Guatemala. Ichintal is a delicacy only available for a short period of time.
Do you have a recipe for Ichintal? If so, please share it with the rest of us.
By the way, the pound of Ichintal is going at the super markets for Q16/$2 right now in Guatemala; probably a little less expensive at the mercados.
© 2014, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.