Heart of Palm--The Perfect Food?
Costa Rica's Real Palm
Problem Palm Provides Surprise
The problem with the palm was that the heavy twenty foot fronds could break and fall onto the new roof of the rancho. We had purchased a product called Palmex to replace the thatched roof. While it was water proof, bug and sun resistant, it was not immune from heavy limbs.
It had to come down. While there is nothing that you can really do with the bulk of the by product of a mature palm tree, deep inside is a true delicacy.
It took us a full twenty minutes for the chainsaw to buzz its way through the soft core. Once it fell into the pineapple patch it was another twenty minutes before we could reach the center. He used a combination of a chain saw and a machete to strip the layers and layers of old frond sheathes.
When the last few delicate chops were finished, I was handed a nearly 3 foot long piece of Palmito or Heart of Palm. We tasted it immediately. It had a crunchy, juicy succulent texture that tasted like a solid mouthful of really mild coconut.
A heart of palm processing facility.
Costa Rica's heart of palm industry centers on controlled farming of the palm plants. In some instances the heart of palm is sold in ferrias or local markets fresh and raw. However, the bulk of the palm is preserved in cans or jars for domestic consumption or export.
Chopped, Chilled, Marinated
We stored it in the refrigerator for a while and made a vinaigrette with garlic. The heart of palm was cut or flaked into bite sized pieces and marinated for an hour or so.
We cracked open a beer an had the best fresh heart of palm appetizers as part of our 'Costa Rican' Happy Hour as the sun set.