I love this painting, El Tunero, or Prickly Pear Gatherer, by Fernando Castillo, 1937. Only a few of Castillo’s paintings survive in private collections. El Tunero is using a basket to gather his tunas, which is a traditional method for gathering them. Now we use plastic buckets like the one below.
These tunas from the Opuntia ficus-indica are really ripe. I picked them yesterday from some large cactus stands near my home in the San Diego back country, but I don’t imagine they’ll be many more edible tunas in another week. The birds and bees are diving right in, now that the tunas are so ripe. I juiced them today with Minnie and Ray Tafoya and their nephew Daniel, who wanted to witness my new speed-juicing method for non-labor-intensive kitchen devotees such as myself. We’ve never worked with such overripe fruits before, but they processed relatively quickly and produced an amazing amount of really sweet nectar. Tastes terrific over ice with a bit of lime juice.