Worldwide Wednesday: Prickly Pear


Our second annual Mother-Daughter trip took us to Sedona this past weekend. We relaxed at the spa, took a Vortex Tour, ate at a bunch of delicious food, and hiked so much that my lower body is still sore.

I knew that Sedona is recognized for its sought-after spas, vortex energy, and geological wonderlands before we arrived but what I didn’t realize was that Sedona is home to the Opunita cactus. Commonly known as the prickly pear, the large cactus species grows in the southwestern United States, Mexico, South America, Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean. What cactus am I talking about, you might ask? It is the classic picturesque cactus plant with large oval leaves, sharp spines, and cylindrical magenta fruit around the edge.

WW5 - Pickly PearWW5 - Sedona

Before I moved to the Southwest, the balanced character of the exotic cacti fascinated me. Despite my interest in cactus plants, I haven’t seen the famous prickly pear in Las Vegas, which made it all the more exciting when I spotted it in Sedona. Much to my surprise, I quickly learned that the fruit of the cactus is edible after noticing local restaurants offering prickly pear desserts and Margaritas. That’s right! It can be peeled and eaten raw but is mostly made into candy, juice, or dried and sweetened.

My excitement stemmed more in regard to the cactus plant rather than my desire to actually taste the fruit. I reacted to it like I do most new foods: I’m sure that it “tastes great” and everything but I don’t feel the need to try it. Then, we had an overzealous hike one afternoon and I needed to spike my blood sugar levels. Prickly pear taffy was my only option. The fruit, at least in taffy form, tastes like a mixture of raspberry, watermelon, and bubble gum. It’s not bad, but it’s strange to swallow a bubble-gum textured candy that has a bubble-gum taste. Nevertheless, it is something all types of eaters should try when adventures take them to the lands of the prickly pear.

Pickin’ your Brain:

  • Do you have the urge to try new foods when you travel?