Martinican specialties are not common in Montreal, where Haitian, Jamaican and other islands in the Greater Antilles rather than the Lesser Antilles are much more widespread.
You should therefore take the opportunity to taste some emblematic dishes, such as the famous chicken colombo (relative of Indian and Sri Lankan curries) during the Martinique gourmande festival, which takes place every year in September in the metropolis. Its Creole market, which will take place next weekend, allows you to discover products not normally accessible here, such as the famous Floop “frozen cartons”, coconut ice cream, West Indian pudding, fressinettes (small bananas with thin skin). or the quenette, this little fruit that can remind you of lychee and that everyone nibbles under the sun there.
Happy will be those nostalgic for Martinique when they learn that the famous cult fruit that is the cinnamon apple is occasionally found in certain Quebec supermarkets. The best we tasted came from the new Marché T
“When I’m in the country, I want to eat fruit: bananas that taste good, oranges that aren’t pretty but are super juicy and sweet, mangots [smaller and more fibrous mango]”, says Jérémie Jean in a telephone interview. Baptiste, chef and culinary consultant for the festival.
One of the highlights of our most recent trip to Martinique, last June, was the visit to the Village Pomme Cannelle orchard, at Le Prêcheur. This family hotel residence in the north of the island is a tropical fruit paradise, with its guavas, its soursops, its plums of all colors (including the cythera, which makes a most thirst-quenching juice), its star fruits, its acerola cherries and its guajilotes, among others.
Stevic Netala, owner, took us around, picking up a few specimens for the five Quebec journalists that we were. Why not a little passion fruit in the aperitif ti-punch!
This brings back fond memories of hearty fish and seafood meals during our five-day tour of the island last spring. We were so close to the spring.
During the passage of a squall (heavy but brief rain), we took refuge under the shelter of a fisherman who was repairing his seine, a large collective fishing net. This can measure from 100 to 600 m. It is deployed in an arc in the water. Two teams coordinate to each shoot one side of the net to bring it down. This very ancient fishery is remarkably united. The owner of the seine keeps half of the catch. Those who help can easily leave with two or three kilos of fish.
A little earlier in the day, we witnessed fishing for saury, a small elongated fish with a pointy beak. It is done in the ancestral way, with a hawk. It involves throwing a circular net, weighed down with lead, onto a school of fish. The same evening, we have the chance to taste breaded saury, directly on the beach, at Petibonum.
This institution of Carbet (commune just south of the best known Saint-Pierre), still in the north of the island, burned down in 2021. The community mobilized to save the restaurant. Its chef and owner, Guy Ferdinand, is a regular in Quebec and a great lover of agricultural rum, which he makes us taste without reservation.
The guests of the Martinique gourmande 2023 festival are Clémence Bruère-Dawson, founder of OKO, a holistic culinary experience, Luidgi Coutépéroumal, from Zandoli, restaurant at the La Suite Villa hotel in Trois-Îlets, Harold Jeanville, from Carte blanche restaurant, also in Trois-Îlets, and Yadji Zami, founder of Galanga Fish Bar, in Fort-de-France.
The theme to be respected this year: from tradition to innovation. You can expect bao-style sandwiches filled with fillings with flavors from Martinique, taco-style cassaves or kassav (cassava-based pancakes) and zucchini with cod.
Himself steeped in influences, Jérémie Jean Baptiste knows a thing or two about fusion and innovation. Born in Burgundy to Martinican parents, he was trained at Bocuse in Lyon and now works in Quebec as a consultant chef and home chef.
“I am lucky to be able to offer a cuisine that resembles my experience. My mother has a West Indian restaurant in Burgundy. When I was young, one of the first dishes I made was a shepherd’s pie with sweet potatoes and colombo spices,” he recalls.
So Jérémie offered us a recipe that combines tradition and invention, developed with the Tablée des chefs. Five thousand portions of this dish will be delivered to food banks in Quebec and then redistributed. This will put a little sunshine on the plates of the less fortunate.