Name: Cactus Jerky
Found at: Whole Foods, Tustin
Ingredients: Cactus, Teriyaki, Organic Cane Juice, Fresh Garlic, Onion & Spices
Why I Bought It:
After all the junk food I've consumed and featured for this blog segment, I figured a change of pace was in order. Not all wacky snacks are from east, which account for most of the ones I've chronicled thus far. Some, like this Cactus Jerky is, more or less, local. Cactus jerky, it says on the back of the package, “originated at a place called Rancho Santa Elena in Malibu, California; the site of a Chumas Indian settlement.”
Cactus, on its own, is not a strange ingredient. Nor should it be. If you've had tequila or drinks made with it, you've had cactus. Also you'll occasionally see in Mexican dishes, such as the tacos acorazados at Alebrije's Grill. It's delicious. But me? I've never had it as jerky, and for sure, never from a package that has a lizard on it.
It reminds me more of fruit roll-ups than jerky. The tactile texture of it is jerky-like–leathery and dry. But the way it eats makes no mistake that this is a not supposed to emulate beef. It's very chewy, tacky, almost gummy. And the taste is pleasantly savory, sort of approximating the teriyaki flavor it advertises itself to be, but not quite. It's mainly salty. And if you're hiking in California and have this in your supplies, you are more likely to come face to face with the source of your snack than if you were to eat beef jerky…unless you plan to hike through Corona.