I don’t think I have mentioned on this blog that while I was in college I did a mini term abroad to the island of Martinique. While geographically in the Caribbean, Martinique is considered to be a “department of France.” While in Martinique I lived with a lovely host family and studied French, Creole, and the culture of the island. The trip was one the best experiences of my life, as I fell in love with the easy going pace of life that contained hints of what I love about France sans the often uptight rules and rigidity of French culture.
The reason I mention this is because last week I picked up a cookbook on sale at Boarder’s. The cover boasted it contained the best recipes of the Caribbean. It was so cheap I didn’t think twice about the purchase and it was only when I got home that I realized what a great “find” I had picked up. Flipping through the pages of gorgeous photos reminded me of dishes I hadn’t thought about in years! I decided instantly to make the tomato and hearts of palm salad that was served regularly at the table of my host family in Martinique. It is a very simple salad that was served without much thought, sort of the way we might serve a mixed green salad with dinner. It is easy to make last minute and is a delicious and healthy addition to any roast or sandwich. I served ours over a bed of greens along with Lime Roasted Chicken.
This was a fun way to bring the Caribbean to Boston during hurricane Irene! I was flooded with memories of my time on the island at first bite; the thick humid air, the smell of my host mother’s perfume, and the strong citrusy taste of Shrubb (a traditional liqueur made during the Christmas season).
Aren’t the powers of our senses incredible? The way that a single taste can induce a rush of memories is pretty amazing if you ask me. It ranks pretty high as one of my favorite reasons to cook.
Tomato and Hearts of Palm Salad:
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- salt and black pepper
- 1- 14 oz. can of hearts of palm
- the juice of one lime
- 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
Slice tomatoes and arrange on serving platter. Sprinkle salt and pepper over sliced tomatoes. Drain the can of hearts of palm. Cut them into 1/2 inch slices and arrange over tomatoes on platter. Make the dressing by whisking lime juice, mustard, and oil in a bowl. Drizzle over salad.
Adapted from The Food and Cooking of the Caribbean, Central and South America.