Mackerel gets a bad rap. Mackerel, herring, sardines, they’re all cheap and bit on the fishy side even when fresh, so they’re not at the top of most people’s list. We’re all given the impression from celebrity chefs that mackerel is a less popular, more sustainable fish than, say, cod or sea bass and is therefore a better choice for the dinner table. The differences between mackerel and sea bass are pretty obvious, not least the price, but back in 2013 there was a scare when mackerel all of a sudden sunk into the danger zone. Just after all of us started getting on the band wagon, we were suddenly supposed to cut back on this oily, omega-3 filled fish and all its inherent goodness before we lose it forever. Now it’s confusingly listed as 2-4 on the sustainable scale depending on how and where it’s caught. Good grief.
On my way to California from New York, I bought a Food and Wine magazine at the airport and, flipping through, I landed on a delicious looking salad starring an ingredient I hadn’t eaten for a long time: hearts of palm. I only had a vague recollection of a slightly pickled, tender white tubular vegetable with a delicate flavor. A bit of research on Wikipedia − fountain of all knowledge that it is − revealed that South America supplies the majority of imported hearts of palm which are, as you might suspect, the heart of certain types of palm tree. The cans I bought were products of Bolivia and, for that reason, I decided to ignore the $3.99 price tag per can which I thought was pretty outrageous for a bit of fibrous white veg. However, the harvesting process is pretty labor intensive and must also be expensive so, in addition to import costs, I can understand the high price tag.