Easy Appetizer with Hearts of Palm

I love hearts of palm but about the only thing I’ve ever done with them is slice them and put them on green salads. I first ate them when I was about 15 and my parents and I went to El Salvador. We took a freighter from Vancouver (WA) down to Acajutla. The ship’s food was, uh, interesting. That first breakfast they brought a couple of fried eggs and bacon, but the plate had at least 1/4″ of grease on it. Those eggs must have been deep fried! After that I learned to just ask for bread (freshly baked) and jam for breakfast. The rest of the meals were good, as I remember.

We wanted to walk around Acajutla, which took about 5 minutes to go from one end to the other and then we had to wait for the launch to take us back. It was very hot, very dry and dusty, and we were all thirsty so we went into a bar (the only public establishment there was). Dirt floor, wooden tables, outside latrine behind a shower curtain. The beer was cold but the Coke was warm, being stored outside. I imagine they had limited refrigerator space and used that up for what the sailors wanted! My dad took pity on me and let me have my first beer so I could have something cold. Sailors from various ships were all there as it was the only place to go. Some Greeks danced and broke a glass and the woman that ran the place came out yelling at them because she had young kids and didn’t want them walking in the glass. Then some soldiers filed in and sat in the back. After they all walked in, they shut the doors and locked them. We were evidently there for the duration of their entertainment so I watched my first (and so far only) strippers, one of them shooing her kids off the stage when they got in the way. Certainly not quite the cultural experience my parents had probably planned upon (beer and a strip show) but one we laugh about now.

A day or so later we left the ship to go stay in San Salvador at a hotel, seeing all kinds of other things but none that quite matched the strip show. We ate in homes for the most part. My dad did business down there so knew quite a few people and they invited us over for family dinners. My first paella was eaten in one home. And the first hearts of palm salad in another.

Long introduction to a short recipe… It’s funny how a specific food item can trigger so many memories. I’d love to hear your favorite hearts of palm recipes! In exchange, I offer a simple easy appetizer.

Take thin strips of ham that are about 3×5 inches and spread cream cheese on them. I used some vegetable flavored cream cheese that had a little kick to it. Lay the palm heart down on it and then roll it up. Slice into 1″ pieces and serve.



  1. I have a few short pieces published in Digital Dish. Other than that my food writing is here and on the parent site, http://cheapcooking.com. I’m a writer by trade though, but mostly marketing pieces for high tech companies. Glad you enjoyed the story. Sorry I didn’t see your comment until now!

  2. pattie yost says:

    I haven’t tried this recipe, but plan to soon. I loved the prologue – it hit some old memories of traveling on a Greek freighter in the 1960s! What a humorous story! Do you have anything published?


  1. […] about an inch long. I first had hearts of palm in El Salvador in 1976, which I wrote about here. These days I mostly just slice them up and add them to salads. The original recipe had you spread […]


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