The best part about traveling is trying new foods. Some memorable food experiences I have had include:
- gjetost in Norway
- turtle soup in New Orleans
- street tacos in Tijuana
- aperitifs in Italy
- okonomiyaki in Tokyo
- poke in Maui
- barbecue in Kansas City
Still, there are a million more places to visit and foods to try.
My flavor chemist career had me traveling the globe, but since I have had children, my once fast paced life has changed. Now, when I travel, I look for places with amusement parks and kid friendly meals. Unique food from other regions are gifts I receive from globe-trotting friends or family members. More recently, my brother-in-law gave me a jar of cactus jelly that he got in Arizona, a place I would love to visit.
What is cactus jelly?
My first thought was that cactus jelly is something a desperate tourist purchases at the airport gift shop. (sorry Noah!) I was certain that it would be an overpriced, artificially colored, bland sugar mixture that a marketing manager developed. (twenty five years in the food industry can skew your perception)
Thankfully, I still have an open mind left and I decided to give cactus jelly a try.
For the skeptics out there, I want you to know that cactus jelly is not a bland, sweet, artificially colored concoction. It is a uniquely flavored product that is reminiscent of papaya that has been processed for juice and has that distinct papaya “vomit” character. There was a top note of what seemed to be added l-linalool that provided a spicy, woody, fresh note to balance out the heavy “vomit” character. The flavor in the jelly was from the prickly pear juice on the ingredient statement and not from added flavor. From the ingredient statement, it appears that the cactus jelly was made much like the recipe suggests.
As I plan my next trip I need to find a destination where I can try a fresh prickly pear, my interest has been triggered. Of course, that destination will also need to have an amusement park near-by. Any ideas?