By: Victoria Shearer
The Florida Keys has an equally robust culinary heritage and a fascinating, unusual history. Blessed with a rich tropical pantry and a colorful past, the treasures of the Florida Keys rate second to none. Bountiful harvests from the sea–grouper, snapper, dolphin fish, lobster, stone crabs, shrimp–rank as the freshest in the nation, sometimes only minutes from line to line. And the sunny climate, whose average year-round temperature is 75 degrees, guarantees a year-round growing season.
Though the Keys coral bedrock has proved itself an inhospitable host to commercial growers, tropical fruits–key limes, mangoes, avocadoes, bananas, papayas, and citrus–flourish in backyard gardens from Key Largo to Key West. Commercial growers moved up to Homestead, at the gateway to the Keys, where the marshlands of the drained Everglades provided idyllic conditions. The truck farms of Homestead provide produce for America's table.
With restaurants as diverse and creative as a miniature Manhattan, Key West leads the restaurant scene in the Keys. But for the length and breadth of the Keys, talented chefs reflect the enduring ethnic traditions of generations past as well as the cutting-edge composition and presentation you would expect to find in major cosmopolitan cities worldwide.
Within these pages, expert author Victoria Shearer combines terrific recipes with evocative stories and nostalgic period photographs to convey the Keys'' unusual and fascinating local lore alongside recipes showcasing its robust culinary heritage.