Real Food in Aruba

August 27, 2011 · 17 comments

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offal

Here in Aruba there is little locally grown food — most everything has to be shipped in. However in the market, I was gratified to see so much traditional foods and lots of offal. Do you know what offal is? It is the parts of the animal that is not skeletal muscle, but rather the internal organs like the liver, kidneys, heart, as well as the extremities such as the tails, feet, and tongue. These parts of the animal are highly valued in traditional cooking all over the world as they are dense with nutrients.

Sadly, in the western world they are used less and less as they are considered cheap parts of the animal. Additionally, the diet dictocrats have shunned organ meats as being too rich with fat and cholesterol and many people have become squeamish about eating it.  That is unfortunate because these parts of the animal are full of collagen and gelatin, dense with vitamins A and D and full of minerals. One can be very healthy eating offal several times a week or once a week at the very least.

Traveling and eating real food can be a challenge. I discovered that the easiest way to do it is to stay in a timeshare where there will be a kitchen. So when we travel to Aruba that is where we stay. I usually bring a cooler full of frozen food that survives the plane trip very nicely and is still frozen solid when I arrive. I plan carefully so that I have several ready made dinners and one or two nights I can cook something that I purchase here at the market.

While we are here we will go to our favorite Argentinian steak house for dinner once or twice. Breakfast and lunch can also be made in your room. Most things are available to purchase at the grocery store, but since it is an island and is dependent on what comes in on the ships, sometimes you cannot get certain things. While you won’t get grassfed beef and raw milk here, you can get plenty of conventional foods like milk, eggs, chicken, beef and bread. It certainly beats having to eat out every night. Sadly, there is also plenty of packaged junk, same as you can get at home.

Here at our favorite grocery store, Ling and Sons, there is a freezer case full of that awful offal! There is plenty of cow liver, cow heart (it is huge!), tongue (also huge!) as well as chicken feet by the hundreds and plenty of bones. These bones and feet make fantastic stock full of collagen and gelatin that is so nourishing for your bones, skin and intestinal tract.

While I love chicken liver pate, my family prefers liverwurst (from our grassfed meat supplier). I try to plan meals with organ meats 3 -4 times a month. My mother used to make liver and onions all the time. She made it partly because it was so cheap but also because her mother made it for her. It fell out of favor for a while because we could not get clean animals, but now we can so there is no excuse! Eat liver, it’s good for you!

This post is linked to: Sugar-Free Sunday, Mouthwatering Monday, Mangia Monday, Homemaker Monday. Monday Mania, Delectable Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday Tasty Tidbits, Tuesday at the Table, Traditional Tuesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Creative Juice Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Turning the Table Thursday, Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday, Friday Food, Simply Delish

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren August 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm

My husband and I eat chicken liver every once in a while, but I haven’t had any beef liver yet. My parents didn’t fix any offal when I was growing up, so it was something I had to explore as an adult. I make a bolognese sauce that has chicken livers in it and I’ve served it to guests and everyone thinks it’s great. I don’t tell them until later that they’ve eaten chicken livers!

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2 Jill August 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Hi Lauren,
That’s a great way to “hide” it!!

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3 Marisa August 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Could you share your liverwurst recipe? How is it different from pate, I wonder?

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4 Jill August 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Hi Marisa,
Actually I buy liverwurst from US Wellness.com. It is from grass fed animals.

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5 Amanda August 29, 2011 at 11:31 am

LOL, yes the heart is pretty big. My uncle just told me that if you fry up a tongue whole, it will curl much like it’s licking something. We should try that. :)

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6 Liberty August 29, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Chien liver is my FAVORITE! wrapped iin Nitrate free bacon – I can eat a pound by my own self!Blessings!
http://bit.ly/daNjZ9

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7 Krista August 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Hey! I had liver and onions today for the first time. I threw in a little bacon with it, such a good breakfast.

Tonight I’m going to use the rest of the liver to make smothered liver. Yum!

http://cookingwithkimberly.com/down-south-smothered-liver-onions-with-gravy/

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8 Jill August 29, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Interesting breakfast!

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9 France @ Beyond The Peel August 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm

We had offal vinaigrette with Rabbit Ballotine the other week and it delicious. I definitely don’t get enough organ meat in my diet. My husband rebels. It’s so goo though!

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10 Jill August 29, 2011 at 8:48 pm

This sounds very exotic! Could you share the recipe?

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11 Barbara Goodman August 30, 2011 at 11:37 am

Well I am so glad to hear this as I always have felt guilty eating chopped liver and tongue. So many find tongue gross, but since my mother made it when I was a kid, I like it. Now I can enjoy it even once a week! I just made a batch of your walnut spread which we love. Thanks for the info. & hope you enjoyed your trip. Barbara

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12 Jill August 30, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Hi Barbara,
My mother gave me tongue when I was a child as well, however, one time she gave me the tip of the tongue and it did gross me out. Consequently, i do not eat tongue to this day!!!

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13 Chowstalker August 30, 2011 at 11:55 am

I started cooking offal about a year ago when I realized how nutritious it is. So far, I’ve cooked liver, hearts, tongue, kidneys and a pig’s head! That was a bit intimidating, but pretty tasty!

I’m also intrigued with your visits to Aruba. Sounds like you visit often, so I need to search your site for any other mentions. We have some vacation time coming up and trying to decide where to go!

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14 Jill August 30, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Hi,
You are certainly brave! If you want info about Aruba just email me at Jill@Realfoodforager.com.

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15 Susan@Permanent Posies September 1, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I cannot hang with the liver but my husband loves liver and onions…..fried, of course….I love your writing and am surprised that you can take frozen food on the plane and into Aruba. What a great thing to know! We always stay where we can cook our own food too….but normally we are driving somewhere, so no problem with food transportation.

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16 Jill September 1, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Hi Susan,
There is no problem in bringing food into Aruba. But you cannot take anything home — that is no produce or meats/cheese even if cooked. I made the mistake of not knowing… U.S. customs agents are really rude. I know they are only doing their job but many just go by the book. I have trouble with those who only operate by the book when life is full of exceptions!

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