When you think of fruit, what comes to mind? Peeling back a starchy, sweet banana? Plucking a juicy Hood strawberry? Buying a pint of raspberries at the farmers market? A tart cherry?
A few months ago, I picked up a couple of cans of ackee, the fruit half of Jamaica’s national dish, ackee and saltfish. Now, I love exotic fruits – it’s fun to think that there are hundreds of fruits around the world that I’ll never try (top on the list, for me, is the cashew fruit… I spent hours walking around La Merced in Mexico City searching for a northerly-straying marañon).
One thing this project is teaching me about our globe is that there are a lot of island nations. When you sit and think about it, it makes perfect sense, but it’s not something I put a lot of thought into before this project.
One of the challenges of this project that I underestimated was the sourcing of ingredients. Portland’s a pretty good food town for its size, but that’s mostly on the restaurant end of things.
Our lack of cultural diversity in the Rose City really makes it hard to source quality multi-ethnic ingredients – note the fact that I still haven’t gotten to The Bahamas yet, because I can’t find conch meat in Portland and I haven’t made it to Uwajimaya in Beaverton to see if they sell it.
I’ve made South Asian foods for years, and it’s usually in a pretty rote pattern:
- Chop and sauté onions and chicken.
- Add curry paste and some sort of milk.
- Add assorted vegetables, serve over rice.
There’s a reason I stick to the formula – it’s simple, and generally adequate. When you’re just looking for some Thai red curry on a Tuesday night, why mess with a simple formula?