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Mamafa, hoja elegante, Lokge

Babaron or mamafa is a plant that falls into the category of quelites (leafy green vegetables). Taxonomically, it belongs to the Arum genus of plants, which are poisonous if improperly prepared. The leaves grow to an average of 20-30 cm by harvest time, but may reach over 60 cm. The semi-rigid green and purple leaves are similar to spinach when cooked. Babaron or mamafa has an herbal flavor, described as being between chard and asparagus. This plant can both be harvested from the wild and cultivated.  

To properly harvest babaron or mamafa, the tender leaves are cut by hand, being careful not to touch the leaf veins. There is the belief that if cut with a knife or machete it will be highly toxic. The leaves are washed in boiling water, to which is added ash or tequezquite, then xocoyolt or lemon. Ground sesame seeds and Serrano chili are added to the pot, along with avocado leaf. Everything is stirred together and salt is added to taste. Babaron or mamafa can be prepared year-round.  

Because of its potentially toxic qualities, babaron or mamafa is not commonly consumed outside of the area of Huehuetla, in central eastern Mexico. There indigenous women harvest this plant that grows in the surrounding area. It is an important food source in an area where many people do not eat meat for six out of seven days a week. The amount consumed depends on the harvest, which is in turn dependent on weather conditions. Babaron or mamafa can still be found for sale locally, but among the younger generation, traditional foods like this plant are no longer popular. Local groups are attempting to preserve and publicize these foods through workshops and tastings precisely so that the local people can get to know and eat this product.

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