Guatemalan Food: Iguana en Iguashte

Rudy Giron: Guatemalan gastronomy &emdash; Guatemalan Food: Iguana en Iguashte

Not too long ago I shared a picture of iguashte or iwaxte, a vegetable salad made with ground pumpkin or squash seeds. As I said about a month ago, this is quite possibly a pre-Columbian Mayan dish. This version of iguashte with iguana as the meat was prepared in a recent cooking class at El Frijol Feliz under special request. Of course, many people would put off by having iguana as the meat, but would have no issues if it was beef, chicken, pork or turkey; the typical meats of the Western/European societies. On the other hand, the Mesoamerican societies had and have different animals on their diets or wild American versions of pork and turkey. In fact, I am almost certain that most animals consumed by Pre-Columbian people living in the American continent were wild game. These meats, needless to say, might be considered taboo or not edible to most Westerners at present day for various reasons.

So what does iguana en iwaxte tastes like? Well, Elí Orozco shares these words with us: “This dish is incredibly tasty, and for those who have never tried it, it does taste a lot like chicken, much softer and juicier. As I’ve said before, if it wasn’t for the scales, an untrained palate could not tell them apart. The Iwaxte is very rich, flavorful and smells is incredibly good. The seeds used to make the sauce are slowly roasted and the smell fills the entire kitchen.”

Elí Orozco, the editor of Guatemala Daily Photo, got into hot waters with some of his friends and peers on Facebook for sharing a picture of the charbroiled iguana before it was chopped into pieces for the preparation of the iguana en iguashte sauce. Here’s what he wrote about it:

Food in Guatemala, as in many globalized countries, has become overly Westernized. In our urban centers, any food that does not come out of the processing facility is seen as controversial, as taboo.

I recently started a controversy by showing an image of a charbroiled iguana. It was being prepared into a delicious Guatemalan dish called Iguana en Iwaxte…. continue reading at GuatemalaDailyPhoto.com

© 2015, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.

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  • Elí Orozco

    Nice!
    This dish is incredibly tasty, and for those who have never tried it, the Iguana does taste a lot like chicken, much softer and juicier. As I’ve said before, if it wasn’t for the scales, an untrained palate could not tell them apart.
    The Iwaxte is very rich, flavorful and smells is incredibly good. The seeds used to make the sauce are slowly roasted and the smell fills the entire kitchen.

    • Thanks for sharing the cooking and aroma experience of preparing iguana en iwaxte.

    • I wish I had tried iguana en iguashte, or at least the iguashte sauce. I will have to ask Luis from El Frijol Feliz to prepare it for next time.

  • elgordo

    I tend to be very open-minded and non-judgmental when trying out new food, but … I once had iguana en iguashte in Palin. It was one of the most horrifying things I have ever tasted. I might have been negatively influenced by the green skin.

    • Elí Orozco

      Elgordo, I’ve tried it in Palín And I could see what you are saying.
      The issue with eating it in Palín is that the vendors arraived very early in the morning. By noon, the Iwaxthe has become cold and it resembles more like a orange paste, very distasteful.
      If you eat it early in the morning when hot, it is a very different experience.

    • Hi ElGordo, I believe sometimes we try new food not at the best venues or not on the best of circumstances. I would suggest to give another try at a restaurant or cooking school. 😉