I have tasted very fresh (not canned or bottled) heart of palm in Bogota for the first time in my life. Its slightly crunchy texture and very distinctive flavor with pleasant astringency reminded me of my favorite spring delicacy – freshly harvested and cooked bamboo shoot. According to Gaeleen heart of palm comes from Amazon. I searched the subject on line and came across Edwardandsons.com. (http://www.edwardandsons.com/palmhearts.itml.) Here is a quote from the site; “The tender “hearts of palm” we enjoy are actually the undeveloped leaves that have yet to emerge from their casing within the stem of the palm tree. The huasaí palm is very prolific. Where one is found there will typically be dozens more in close proximity, competing for soil nutrients and sunlight. ” It is interesting to know that the tender delicacy (heart of palm) which I enjoyed is the undeveloped leaves. When it comes to our bamboo shoot, it is the shoot of tree, which eventually becomes steel hard when it matures. Many years ago I ready a story about a visiting foreign dignity during the mid of 19th century was surprised by the Shogun, telling him that Japanese enjoy eating bamboo shoot in spring while pointing out the full grown tree in the garden. The visitor thought that the Japanese have very strong and tough teeth.
Here is the photo of the heart of palm which I had in Bogota. You can find the photo of grilled bamboo shoot which I have recently enjoyed at Kyoya in my previous blog, Chef Sono’s Accomplishment. Heart of Palm and bamboo shoot have similar characteristics. After the harvest they must be consumed as soon as possible – within a day or two is the best. Or, they are cooked and canned or bottled.