Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

epazote Chenopodium ambrosioides, is a plant of Latin America, in the goosefoot family, Chenopodiaceae. In food contexts it is best known by this, its Spanish name, derived from the Aztec (Nahuatl) epazotl; but it may also be called pigweed, Mexican tea, worm weed (because it is supposed to rid people of hookworm), bean herb (because anti-flatulence), etc.

Epazote has been described as one of the three ‘secret ingredients’ of Mexican and Caribbean cooking, the other two being cilantro (fresh coriander leaf) and comino (ground cumin). Despite this reputation, epazote has not been made welcome in N. American or European kitchens. Its unpleasant aroma, which is enough to distinguish it from all related species, may account for this.