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Grocery Shopping In Martinique

Here is another post about Martiniuqe island, just as I promised you guys that I will try to write as much as I can about our 4 months experience. You can also follow my Martinique stories on Instagram where I post about our day to day living in here. Before we come here I had high expectations when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, I thought I will be eating healthy organic fresh food all the time. Well! nope.. everything did not meet our expectations when it comes to food, of course comparing with Sweden's food quality. One of the reason why you guys do not see any new food recipes in my blog anymore. 

The food prices compering to the quality are very bad. Carrefour supermarket is the best place you can buy grocery at, but the quality is terrible to what we know. Especially everything that comes caned. At the local market you can find fruits and vegetables but for ridicules prices. Not to mention imported ones like tomato, bell pepper and so on.. all things that doesn't grow here. Its almost impossible to make international dishes since lots of ingredients are missing. I really miss my food :-P 

We all keep wondering how doest the standard local Martinique people afford to eat well. Here I collected some of the local fruits and vegetables names and info. I took this photo below at the local market. I hope you enjoy these info and insperation.  

Fruit and Vegetable in Martinique:

Ackee (or Quenette)
A small fruit with a smooth green rind, it grows in bunches and is sold around September/October time at stalls and at the market. The opaque pale orange flesh is sweet and covers a fairly large inner stone that can be eaten when grilled.

Apricot (Mamey Apple)
Totally different in looks to the European Apricot, the local apricot or Mamey apple (Mammea americana) is generally not eaten 'as is', the flesh can be hard with an astringent, bitter taste. It is better prepared as jam or stewed and sweetened.

These green pear shaped fruit have thinner smoother skins compared to those normally found in Europe. Avocadoes can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes and are a common ingredient in Creole cuisine. Although not naturally sweet, avocadoes have a rich, creamy and subtle flavour which is perfect for sweet treats such as milkshakes or smoothies as well as savoury dishes such as salads or a local specialty, Feroce d’avocat, made with avocado, cassava flour, cod, garlic and piment.

The range of bananas available in Martinique is quite astounding, a great variety of colours, sizes and even shapes! However the tiny sweet finger bananas and bananas that need cooking (plantain/bananes legume) are always found in markets alongside the 'traditional' banana that can be found in every European supermarket. Although visitors can find it hard to differentiate between a banana and plantain (vegetable banana), there are certain differences; the plantain has an extended 'knobbly' end to it, is harder in texture and has more pronounced 'sides'. Plantains are not eaten raw; they can be fried, boiled, roasted or stewed.

Think of big green footballs with dimples, growing in enormous trees, and you will know a breadfruit when you see it! Roasted, fried, boiled or even prepared as a souffle...
Breadfruit is cooked in similar ways to potatoes, but the fibrous inner core should be removed!

The cacao pod is yellow when ripe, the white flesh from around the seeds is sweet and tender and can be eaten 'as is'. It is this flesh and the seeds (or beans) that are roasted to make the main ingredient for chocolate. Sticks made from the roasted cacao can be purchased in the local markets, grate it and add to milk with a dash of nutmeg to make 'real' hot chocolate; the ladies in the markets selling cacao sticks will be happy to give you full instructions.

Carambola (starfruit)
Not originally native to Martinique, this originally came from the Asiatic countries but is grown locally now and widely available throughout Martinique. Although the entire fruit can be eaten 'as is' it is often used to decorate drinks and desserts due to the star shape of the cut fruit, it can also be cooked and is used to make jams and relishes.

Cashew Nuts
It would actually be more correct to call them cashew seeds as they grow at the end of a rather peculiar 'apple'. This apple can be used to make a drink but is rarely for sale in Martinique. Like cassava, the preparation (hulling and roasting) of cashew nuts is best left to experienced people as incorrect handling can lead to health problems due to certain toxins. This is why cashews available for sale are always shelled and roasted, never raw and unshelled.

Cassava (Manioc)
The granular Cassava or Manioc flour extracted from the root is used to prepare a variety of dishes in the Caribbean including Martinique. In Europe this is better known as tapioca. The root itself can be eaten boiled and is then sometimes fried with other ingredients. There are two varieties of Cassava, sweet and bitter. Cassava (or Manioc) is something we recommend you do not prepare yourself! Incorrect preparation, particularly of the bitter variety, can result in residual cyanide causing severe health problems.

The Christophine (elsewhere known as Chayote) is a bumpy pale green/white 'fruit' vegetable in the form of an avocado and around 15 cm long that is used to prepare the delicious dish 'Christophine au Gratin' amongst other dishes. In its raw form Christophine is quite tough and unpalatable. The shiny skin and the core should be removed prior to cooking. Although only the fruit is seen on markets in Martinique, the root, stem, seeds and leaves of this sprawling plant are also edible.

In the Caribbean people don’t eat the 'dry' brown coconuts, they eat them straight off the tree, when they are green or yellow. The milk and jelly inside is delicious fresh from the coconut but is also also used to flavour many Creole dishes, both sweet and savoury. A local dish that uses the coconut milk is ‘Blanc-manger’, a delicate light and creamy dessert. A word of advice, coconut palms may provide lovely shade on beaches but you should never sit underneath them, falling coconuts are a serious health hazard!

Coffee beans are grown in Martinique but less so than before when it was a major crop. Ground local coffee is occasionally found for sale, the flavoured varieties, such as vanilla, are particularly appreciated. Look out for the small trees bearing red berries when driving around the island, especially in the north.

Corossol (Soursop)
Also called Soursop, Corossol is the fruit of the evergreen tree Annona muricata which is native to this part of the world. The taste of the white pulpy flesh can best be likened to creamy strawberry with a touch of citrus. Corossol can be enjoyed ‘as is’ but is often made into juice, sorbet, and ice cream. The black seeds are not eaten.

Golden Apple (Prune de Cythère)
This green skinned fruit grows in bunches on large fast growing trees. The skin ripens to a golden yellow and the flesh has a tart acidic taste which is very refreshing in the form of juice. The fruits are generally around 7 to 8 cm long and contain a fibrous pit.

Guava (Goyave)
This yellow green fruit is grown on fairly small bushy trees. Around 5 cm in size the round or oval fruit is deliciously sweet and contains vitamins A, B and C and calcium too which is unusual for a fruit. The entire fruit can be eaten except for the seeds. Guava jam and juice are both very popular. Guava ‘cheese’ can be found in many shops and on the markets, this is made using the flesh of the guava that has been pressed and mixed with sugar and spices, it is delicious and can keep for a few weeks!

One of the ingredients of Ti Punch, the local smooth skinned round limes are commonly used in Creole cuisine, for basting, marinating, flavouring or as a central ingredient in many dishes. Fresh limes will be found in every Martinican kitchen. The young leaves can be used to make a refreshing infusion or tisane.

Sweet, juicy and delicious, this fruit is popular throughout the world and although often enjoyed ‘as is’ it can be used for juice, sorbets, desserts, chutneys and even curries as well as many other dishes. Although unripe mangoes can be used in cooking they should not be eaten raw. Mangoes vary in size and colour depending on the variety. Mango trees grow wild in Martinique. The flesh is firmly attached to a fibrous, sometimes hairy hard pit.

Deliciously juicy and sweet, the ripe yellow papaya is eaten 'as is'. It is often used in fruit salads. Green papaya is added to savoury dishes during cooking to help tenderise the meat. The seeds are edible and can be used as a substitute for pepper when ground. The leaves are also edible when cooked but rarely used in Creole cuisine. The papaya plant or ‘tree’ is very distinctive; the leaves fall off as the plant grows upwards and the fruit grows around the ‘trunk’ nestled among the leaf stems.

Passion fruit (Maracudja)
Most people have seen passion fruit for sale in supermarkets. This round yellow or purple fruit is filled with many seeds, each enrobed with a yellow pulpy flesh, varying in taste from sweet to fairly acidic depending on the variety. Passion fruit is rich in vitamins A and C. Often eaten ‘as is’ it can also be used for sorbets, juice and desserts.

Peanuts (or cacahuetes)
Although technically not a nut, peanuts are widely available throughout Martinique and often sold dry roasted in the shell in grey or brown conical packets on many street stalls. Also used in Creole cuisine and made into ice cream, the peanut is very popular here; if you are allergic then you should check the ingredients of local products and dishes carefully.

Piment (Scotch Bonnet peppers, Bonda Man Jacques)
One of the hotter piment or peppers, the Bonda Man Jacque is used extensively in Creole cuisine. If you try your hand at some Creole recipes then be careful with the dosage as this piment can be very 'hot'. If you are looking for spicy rather than hot then try the local Colombo spice mix.

This fruit is grown a lot in Martinique, for canning and for export. Like the banana, there is a wide variety of pineapples available in different sizes, colours and even look and taste. If you drive around Martinique you will come across many pineapple fields which look like fields of cacti at first glance.

Sugar Cane
Occasionally you will come across a vendor selling freshly crushed sugar cane juice; don’t hesitate, buy a goblet, the green brown brackish juice may look a little unappetising but the taste is delicious! If you find sugar cane available on the market stalls then buy a piece to chew on, both tasty and fibrous it was used as a toothbrush by the slaves.

Surelle (local gooseberry)
This small yellow fruit is quite acidic in taste so is generally not eat generally not eaten raw. The surelle fruit is normally candied or pickled in chutney or relish. Surelle is also used to make syrup and punch and can also be drunk as a sweetened fruit juice. The fruit, seeds, root and leaves have various medicinal properties.

Sweet apple (or custard apple)
From the same family as the Corossol, the custard apple or sweet apple also looks similar to the Soursop when broken into pieces; tender white flesh around black seeds, delicious eaten 'as is'.

Sweet Potato
A frequent side dish and ingredient of various savoury dishes in Creole cuisine, the sweet potato is a delicious vegetable that can be prepared in many different ways. It can also be used to make desserts. If you want to try preparing it yourself but without using complicated recipes then cook it any way you can cook a potato; boiled, baked, fried, pureed, roasted, sautéed, as chips...

An unusual fruit, the tamarind is both sweet and sour with a slightly acidic taste. Rich in tartaric acid and vitamin B the ripe tamarind fruit also contains calcium. The fruit is also used for medicinal purposes, the wood can be used for carpentry. It can be eaten raw and used to make juice and jam but is also an ingredient of Creole cooking and can be made into pickles, relishes and curries. It is one of the ingredients of Worcestershire sauce.

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Julia sitting on my legs and shaking me as I am writing this post XD

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