Illustration by Rupert Bottenberg

Site menu:


Site search




Eating Arizona (in enRoute, Air Canada’s inflight mag)

“They don’t give you much in terms of nutrition,” shrugs Noland Johnson as he pulls down a tall frond of ocotillo and hands me its small scarlet buds. “But if you’re out walking in the desert and it’s really hot, they’re nice and refreshing.” Sure enough, when I put the bud on my tongue, I get a burst of moisture – sweet and bitter at the same time, a bit like a huckleberry.

Every morning since I’ve been in Arizona, as I head out into the Sonoran Desert or mountain canyons to hike or ride, new shapes and shades have revealed themselves overnight: bright yellow and fuchsia prickly pear blooms, pumpkin-orange barrel cactus buds, bruised purple cholla cactuses, the tall ocotillos that sway over me, their red blooms outlined in the sky like dripping flames. Johnson and his five-year-old daughter, Isabella, are leading me through the desert behind the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, tucked into the foothills near Tucson, on a hunt for more than just refreshment. They’re introducing me to the roots of Arizona’s first – and latest – fine foods. Read article