Eating My Way Around the World: Martinique

So, COVID has largely ended travel as we know it, at least for the foreseeable future. Seeing as my travel (mis)adventures and getting drunk at pubs made up 90% of the content here, there hasn’t been much to read as of late.

Then I stumbled on this Reddit thread, about expanding one’s culinary skills by cooking a meal from every country. I was … intrigued. Here’s something that combines two different goals — cooking a diverse menu of dishes, and the much more challenging task of finding native ingredients from around the world … in Ireland. After consulting a few blogs (Global Table Adventure, Let’s Eat the World), and asking a few friends and the Husbot for a sanity check, I decided to throw caution to the wind, and pick a country.

Fun fact: Did you know there are random country generators on the internet?! Now you do!

On Friday, I the random country generator assigned me Martinique, a small French overseas territory located in the Lesser Antilies of the West Indies. I’ve fortunately been to a few Caribbean locales (the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands and Virgin Islands), so I had an idea of the kind of ingredients I could expect, but little other information.

Coat of arms of Martinique
Martinique doesn’t have a flag (being an overseas territory), but it does have a rad coat of arms.

Identifying Manageable Recipes

Selecting a few recipies that were indicative of Martinique, but still practical to make in Ireland took some effort. That meant things featuring exotic, local fish and crustaceans were out. After some searching, I settled on three representative Martiniquaise dishes, Accras de Morue (Cod Fritters), a main of Chicken Colombo (a chicken creole curry using coconut milk), and originally Bananes a la Martiniquase (fried plantains with rum!). I never made it to dessert, but I promise, the rum did not go to waste.

Given all the COVID-19 prepping that I’ve been doing, I had most of the ingredients on hand. What I was missing was the salted cod, the colombo spice, and a few veggies. I knew of all the ingredients, the colombo spice was going to be the trickiest to come by. Although it called for a number of spices I already had (corriander, cumin, peppercorns and tumeric), others, including ground yellow mustard, fenugreek & fennel seeds aren’t exactly common in Ireland. After discovering a great Afro-Middle Eastern market in Dublin (Noor Madina Foods), I was able to find a good substitute — the ‘Caribbean Hot’ curry powder. They had milder forms but David enjoys destroy-the-esophagus levels of spice, and I love my husband, so I decided to go big.

The curry powder did not disappoint.

While I could talk endlessly about the cooking process and following the recipe, that’s kind of boring, and there’s plenty of bloggers who do this already. Overall, the recipes were fairly straightforward, and there weren’t any obvious gotchas, and everything smelled like heaven. I did want to point out a few of the perhaps unique-to-Ireland substitutions that you should consider when making these dishes, and share all of that lovely food porn and cat imagery you’re all really here for.

Substitutions & Observations

In addition to subbing out the colombo sauce, I also made the following minor substitutions:

  • Salt Cod: While this makes sense historically, finding salted cod in Ireland is ridiculously challenging. After all, why salt cod when you have the fresh stuff readily available and a means to preserve it? Since the recipe called for rehydrating the cod anyway, I went with frozen cod. Nobody seemed to mind.
Cod Veg Mix
Pregaming the cod with parsley, habanero and scallions
  • White Pepper: Didn’t have it, couldn’t find it. Black pepper seemed to work.
Accras de Morue
The final result. The accras de morue were amazing.
Marinate that chicken, y’all
  • Marinating: I am an impatient cook, but I have to admit, marinating the chicken really brought out the flavors. Also it made the whole thing smell wonderful, which never hurts. Stick it in the fridge for a few hours before you cook to let the chicken absorb all that yummy goodness.
  • Don’t forget the booze: When we visited the BVI, we learned the importance of LRBDs – Local Rum-Based Drinks. I am not a huge rum fan, but a dark and stormy really does put you in the mood. Plus, they’re dead simple to make. And you can find ginger beer at your local Tesco!
Look at this sexiness.
Obligatory Cat
We opted to eat at the couch to watch the SpaceX launch (that was delayed). Leroy really wanted all of this tastiness.

We never made it to dessert, partly because the food was incredibly filling, and partly because I was a bit tired. Fortunately, I did fry up some plaintains the next day and put them in a Cuban black bean and veg bowl, and they were fantastic.

All in all, my first culinary adventure was a success, and it was rather fun to learn a bit about a place that I hope to visit one day.

Next up: Georgia

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