Until 1890, pods from the Mesquite tree produced one of the most valued foods, wild or cultivated, in the Southwestern deserts of North America. The honey mesquite, also known as the velvet mesquite, is a nitrogen-fixing legume tree that produces pods rich in protein and sweet galactomannin—a gum-based sugar. Traditionally, the pods were toasted over hot coals at midday and then ground into a fine flour with grinding sticks and stones. Today, the pods are still hand-roasted and dried, but are currently ground using a hammer mill. Mesquite pod flour’s sweet, smoky flavor is a valued part of the culinary traditions of the Pima, Tohono O’odham, Seri, Apache, Cocopah, Maricopa and other American Indian tribes. Currently, the Tohono O’odham and Seri people, as well as Sonoran Hispanics in Arizona are employed in the survival of this cherished flour.
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.