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To be honest, although I tend to enjoy almost every food you might offer me (so long as it doesn't contain any animal parts), there is one thing that I place above all others. Heart of palm, if you've never tried it, has a texture and flavor which is across between artichokes and bamboo shoots, although with a certain character all its own. Not as forceful as artichokes, and not as woody as bamboo shoots, it is a gently magical food which gets ignored far too frequently.

The most common application is in a salad as a garnish, perhaps marinated. Cold, it does give a clever dimension to a good salad, especially one also garnished with some kind of toasted nut or intense cheese, like Roquefort. Although the flavor of the palm heart is delicate, it can stand up to big contrasting players on a plate. However, it really has the potential to do so much more.

Given that it is comparable in price to artichoke hearts, I suggest substituting it for them in any dish. Around here, you can only find canned palm hearts, which is unfortunate. Regardless, their flavor comes though and they are well worth trying, even from a can. They come in two forms, whole and half moon. I have not noticed a substantial difference in taste between them, but there is a contrast in texture. The half moons are a nice place to start, since you don't need to process them at all. They are in a nice serving shape right out of the can.

In case you're wondering, yes it was once customary to cut down thousands of palm trees per year, especially in Florida and the Brazilian rain forest, to harvest the hearts. Fortunately, about all of the hearts of palm you will find on the market these days come from a variety which does not die when the heart is removed.

As an introduction, try adding them to a salad or a simple stir-fry. For flavor profiles, I find that they pair the best with Italian or French flavors, like herbs, tomato, cheese, bitter greens, and acidic elements like wine and vinegar. However, when you taste them, you should let your imagination roam, and pair them with whatever pleases your palate the most. In the end, they are a delicate delicacy and a perfect excuse to exercise your creativity.

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