South American Herb "Huacatay"
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Alyssa G. Simpson
Posted on: January 16, 2006

I’m curious to know whether you can help us figure out the common English name for an herb.

My husband is from Peru, and cooks there, especially in the Andes, use an herb called "huacatay" that is quite distinctive and adds a really delicious undertone to certain sauces. It has been described to me as being "related to" a marigold (I think it actually may be a type of marigold). We’d like to grow some for use in our cooking, because we’ve never seen it sold fresh or dried in markets around here.

Might you have any idea what variety of marigold or other plant this is? If not, do you have a suggestion about which marigold variety might make a good substitute? It’s used to flavor savory dishes, frequently in creamy sauces, and sometimes in soups. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

According to Gernot Katzer’s "Spice Pages" (http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/generic_noframe.html?spice_welcome.html) "huacatey" is indeed a type of marigold. It is what we call in our catalogue "mexican marigold". The botanical name is Tagetes minuta.

There are several species of marigolds used in Peru for flavouring. The best known as the anise-scented varieties such as Tagetes lucida, which we also carry. You can find all of the herbal marigolds online at http://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?page=SubIndexPages/Marigold.html

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