high desert test kitchen
april ingredient: yucca
april 16, 2018 at copper mountain mesa community center


Several species of yucca are widely distributed throughout the southwest, providing a tool shed of resources for native populations. The Cahuilla people used the tenacious but pliable fibers from the Mohave yucca (yucca schidigera) to make sandals, netting, bow strings, cordage, and other flexible tools. The immature flowering stalk and tender buds of Our Lord’s Candle (hesperoyucca whipplei) offered substantial spring forage. The fruit pods of both species are edible later in the season, and their saponin-rich roots can be rendered into soap.
Yucca was on the test kitchen agenda last year, but the timing was off as our May ingredient—most of the edible blossoms were overly mature and had begun to wither, while the fruits weren’t quite ripe enough to enjoy. This year we’re shifting our spring ingredients around in hopes of aligning our dinner with the emergence of yucca’s tender buds. But as always, this is open to interpretation—feel free to work with the fibers of the plant to make an eating vessel or utensil, or try out another edible species from the agave family (ahem, Don Julio anyone?), or bring your homemade dish soap for clean-up! 

For more information on HDTK, as well as more information on yucca, tips on how to identify it, and other nuggets of info, check out Sarah's website.

Monday, April 16th at 7pm 
Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center
65336 Winters Rd. Joshua Tree, CA

High Desert Test Kitchen (HDTK) is an informal monthly dinner gathering organized by artist Sarah Witt. Participants bring a dish to share that is either made with or inspired by ingredients inhabiting this peculiar span of the North American desert. Exploring the Mojave from a culinary perspective, HDTK naturally intersects with foraging practices and Native American traditions, and inevitably ignites debates concerning ethical human-to-wilderness relationships - hopefully challenging our taste buds too.