A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 21, 2009
Mexican Turnip (jicama nickname)

The jicama has been called a “Mexican turnip” since at least 1959; jicamas became popular in the United States since the 1970s. The bulbous root vegetable is a member of the legume family and can be eaten raw or cooked.

The jicama has also been nicknamed “Mexican potato” since at least 1972.


Wikipedia: Jicama
Jícama (Spanish: hee-kah-mah, from Nahuatl xicamatl hee-kah-mahtl), also Mexican Potato and Mexican Turnip, is the name of a native Mexican vine, although the name most commonly refers to the plant’s edible tuberous root. Jicama is one species in the genus Pachyrhizus that is commonly called yam bean, although the “yam bean” sometimes is another name for Jicama. The other, major species of yam beans are also indigenous within the Americas. It very much tastes like a sweet pea pod.

The jicama vine can reach a height of 4-5 metres given suitable support. Its root can attain lengths of up to 2 m and weigh up to 20 kilograms. The root’s exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles raw potato or pear. The flavor is sweet and starchy, reminiscent of some apples or raw green beans, and it is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon, or lime juice and chili powder. It is also cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes. It can also be cut into thin wedges and dipped in salsa as a healthier alternative to corn chips.

Due to its growing popularity, cultivation of jícama has recently spread from Mexico to other parts of Central America, China and Southeast Asia where notable uses of raw jícama include popiah and salads such as yusheng and rojak. Jícama has become popular in Vietnamese food, where it is called cây củ đậu (in northern Vietnam) or củ sắn or sắn nước (in southern Vietnam). It is known as by it’s chinese name bang kuan to the ethinc chinese in the south east asia region.

In Mexico it is very popular in salads, fresh fruit combos, fruit bars, soups, and other cooked dishes.

In contrast to the root, the remainder of the jícama plant is very poisonous; the seeds contain the toxin rotenone, which is used to poison insects and fish.

Jícama is high in carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber. It is composed of 86-90% water; it contains only trace amounts of protein and lipids. Its sweet flavour comes from the oligofructose inulin (also called fructo-oligosaccharide).

Jícama should be stored dry, between 12°C and 16°C (53°F and 60°F); colder temperatures will damage the root. A fresh root stored at an appropriate temperature will keep for a month or two.

Epicurious.com - Food Dictionary
jícama
[HEE-kah-mah]
Often referred to as the Mexican potato, this large, bulbous root vegetable has a thin brown skin and white crunchy flesh. Its sweet, nutty flavor is good both raw and cooked. Jícama is available from November through May and can be purchased in Mexican markets and most large supermarkets. It should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag and will last for about 2 weeks. The thin skin should be peeled just before using. When cooked, jícama retains its crisp, water chestnut-type texture. It’s a fair source of vitamin C and potassium. 

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Main Entry: ji·ca·ma
Pronunciation: \ˈhē-kə-mə\
Function: noun
Etymology: Mexican Spanish jícama, from Nahuatl xīcamatl
Date: circa 1909
: an edible starchy tuberous root of a tropical American vine (Pachyrhizus erosus) of the legume family that is eaten raw or cooked

The Cook’s Thesaurus
jicama = jícama = yam bean = Mexican yam bean = ahipa = saa got = Chinese potato (this name also is used for arrow root) = Mexican potato = Chinese turnip (this name also is used for lo bok)
Pronunciation: HIH-kuh-ma
Equivalents: One jicama, cubed = 2 cups
Notes: This tan-skinned tuber has a mild, nondescript flavor, but a nice crunchy texture. It’s a good, cheap substitute for water chestnuts in stir-fries.  Since it doesn’t discolor, it’s also a great vegetable to serve raw on a crudité platter. Peel it before using. 
Substitutes: water chestnuts (These are more expensive and sweeter than jicama. Like jicama, water chestnuts retain their crispiness when stir-fried.) OR Jerusalem artichoke ( Like jicama, these can be eaten raw and they stay crunchy even when stir-fried. They’re more expensive than jicama, but they have an earthier, nuttier flavor.) OR tart apples OR turnips OR daikon radish

Google Books
The Texas Quarterly
By University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas
Published by University of Texas Press, 1959
Item notes: v.2:1-2 1959
Pg. 140:
On the ground surrounding los puestos are symmetrical heaps of oranges, tangerines, and jicamas, a juicy fruit with a distinctive taste and texture which visitors usually mistake for a kind of Mexican turnip. 

19 February 1976, Albuquerque (NM) Tribune, pg. B1, col. 1:
If you’re hooked on jicama (a crunchy Mexican turnip with a delicate sweet flavor), this is the place to get it.

16 January 1977, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Around the Plaza” by Ed Castillo, pg. 8B, col. 3”
OUR RECENT MENTION of the “jicama” which is so popular down in Mexico brings this letter from Mrs. W. G. Barrier in Universal City: “In answer to your question about the English name for the jicama, many food stores refer to it as the Mexican turnip. I have been enjoying it for several years, adding it to fresh vegetable salads in thin slices or strips. It is also good for dips, in slices or sticks, and is more bland than our regular turnips. The season for them is about November to June. Although my cookbook says some Mexican families use the jicama as potatoes are used, I have never boiled, baked or fried them. I am very happy having them raw”...Thank you, mrs. barrier for this interesting info...we have also noticed that in cities like Guadalajara vendors sell them on street corners, peel them for customers, who then take a little lemon, salt and maybe a dash of red pepper and sprinkle over it before biting into it like an apple.

31 March 1985, Levelland-Hockley Co. News-Press (Levelland, TX) , pg. 9, col. 1:
JICAMA
The jicama (pronounced hick-a-ma) is another of the unusual fruits and vegetables you should know about. Often called a Mexican turnip, these are available in Levelland grocery stores. This brown root vegetable has a crunchy texture and slightly sweet, refreshing taste when eaten raw.

4 March 1990, Aiken (SC) Standard, “World Book Encyclopedia: Who’s In For 1990?” by Paul Galloway, pg. 32, col. 2:
Among the new subjects with their own listings are microwave ovens, Scientology and the jicama, a Mexican turnip.

20 February 1998, Paris (TX) News, “A taste of something new in the garden” by Betty Lyke, pg. 5A, col. 1:
Have you tried a vegetable called a Jicama, or Mexican turnip?

Google Books
The Everything Glycemic Index Cookbook:
300 Appetizing Recipes to Keep Your Weight Down and Energy Up!

By Nancy Maar
Illustrated by Barbara N. Pearl
Published by Everything Books
2006
Pg. 52:
The Homely Legume
Jicama, also known as a Mexican turnip, is a lumpy root vegetable with a unique and versatile taste. The jicama’s peel is inedible, but like a potato, it can be fried, baked, boiled, steamed, or mashed. The jicama can also be eaten raw. Try it as a vehicle for guavamole or use its mild flavor and crunchy texture in fruit salad.

Google Books
Pocket Culinary Art Dictionary:
Portuguese-English, English-Portuguese

By Aline Endres
New Global Publishing
2008
Pg. 40:
jicama—jicama, mexican potato, mexican turnip.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, February 21, 2009 • Permalink