Friday, June 6, 2014

Free Range Friday ~ Food Fun

Not infrequently read here is 'play with your food'. That can be stretched a ways, making today's offering a true special of the day. Au jus, but you'll have to do that part yourself as well.

This article caught my eyes a few days ago, because of a few things. One, the title, Are You Going to Eat That? Weirdest Caribbean Foods, two the first item on the list, cow heel soup and three - hey, it's food and culture and that's usually an interesting combination.  

When on St. Croix, I always heard Cow Heel Soup called Cow Foot Soup. In looking the names up, both seem to work interchangeably, depending where your feet...are. Sorry. Since many of the items on the list seem to be Jamaican in origin, Cow Heel soup or stew it is. 

Every recipe (this is one of them)I read says to get your cow heel already cleaned up from the butcher. I guess that's better than starting from scratch, where you'd either need your own cow or you'd have to hang around an abattoir. 

Some of the soup ingredients ~ from Caribbean Pot
Also on the list is conch pistol (the reproductive organ of the conch - giving a whole new meaning to 'He/She is a real pistol'), crunchy concon, the scraped up crunchy bits of rice on the bottom of the pot actually does have a name!, land crab and a few more, including iguana. I had a conversation with a local about iguana eating here and while a few people seem open to the idea, you won't be finding it on the menu any time soon, if ever. 

Probably my favorite way to eat conch is to make ceviche with it. On St. Croix at a restaurant I think is no longer open, the ladies there made the best ceviche I've ever eaten. I'd go every week on my day off and if the ceviche wasn't ready I'd cry. Ok, I didn't really cry but I'd want to, it was addicting and I had no shame. Thankfully, usually it was ready. A elderly tall thin man, always in black trousers, a white shirt and a bow tie, would lead me to my table and quickly bring me a glass of chardonnay. He was always smiling and always courtly, even when, as often happened, I was the only one in the place. Then out would come the ceviche. The owner would come out and settle himself with his guitar, singing, always, "Lemon Tree". Over the years I knew all the words but never sang along. It just would not have been right, beside the fact that I was too busy eating.

This recipe looks pretty close to what I ate, but there are a lot of ways to make ceviche. This is just one of them, with my own adaptations. You can double or triple this as you wish.

Photo: Jacquie Kubin

  • 1 fresh conch, rough cut into bite size pieces
  • lemons, juiced
  • limes, juiced
  • garlic clove, minced
  • tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • red pepper, seeded and minced
  • yellow pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 habanero, seeded and minced
  • bunch cilantro, leaves chopped
  • tablespoon carrot, sliced from a vegetable peeler
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tomato, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cut the conch in small bite sized pieces. Add 1/2 of the lemon and lime juice and all of the garlic and ginger, carrot and tomato. Let stand for 60 minutes (minimum). Add all the vegetables, remaining juices and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with lime and plantain chips. Buen provecho!
  • Here is a video on cleaning conch - and it's KONK, not like couch, just so you know. The music in this is a bit annoying but the work is good so I'm sharing it. You can always mute the sound. Yes you can.

  • I had a few other food things to share but they got lost in the cyber rinse cycle. But while I was on a beach detour this morning, a food frenzy ballet was right in front of me so this is what will replace vertical gardening for now. They aren't playing with their food, but it was play to watch!

  • Even though the gull actually landed on the pelican's head, more than a few times, the pelican always won. 
  • Have a fun with food Friday. Do something fiercely fine. 

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