There are some dishes in world cuisine that sound so good that you want to eat the page they are written on; steak and chips, bacon sandwich and lemon meringue pie all do it for me. Tonight's Olympic Food Challenge meal does not make the mouth water from its name alone. Oil Down is the national dish of Grenada and, that one fact, should have made me want to cook it as part of the challenge.
The clincher that allowed me to see through the greasy title of the dish, was the addition of breadfruit. Now I don't have a bucket list mentality, I have no driving ambition to eat everything under the sun before I put down my pots and pans, but I do have a stubborn streak a mile wide. If a new food opportunity is presented to me, I have to take it. This way I can make my own mind up about how good or bad something is.
When I announced on twitter that I was going to eat breadfruit the responses were extreme. Breadfruit, it seems, divides opinion like Marmite on steroids. I received horrified messages warning me off eating the disgusting fruit, alongside messages telling me how lucky I was to be having the nicest food on the planet.
With all of the above knowledge on board, I was more determined than ever to cook Oil Down. I had spies (@eatlittlespoon) on Leeds Kirkgate Market looking out for its arrival. In the end Z was passing during her lunch break and happend to find some. We had originally planned to eat Grenadan next week, but that was bread fruit dependant. Now that we had it in our grasp we had to reshuffle the menu plan.
Oil Down is a wonderful one pot coconut milk based dish of salted meat and vegetables. With the breadfruit secured I chose a bacon joint as the meat and got to cooking. It turns out that we possibly should have cooked this a day or two ago. Breadfruit doesn't stand well once cut* and we had bought half a fruit for the two of us. What we cooked with was closer to a ripe brie than any vegetable I can think of, but after three quarters of an hour simmering in coconut milk with onion, peppers, bacon and a scotch bonnet chilli, it had firmed up and taken on the texture of soft, sweet gnocchi.
So far, Oil Down has been the stand out dish of the Olympic Food Challenge for me, it's the one that I want to cook again and that is as high a recommendation for breadfruit and Grenada as I can give.
*nobody told me that.