Anything blended in a bowl is all the rage. This Saturday, it being Girlahead’s weekly food fest, we celebrate the poke – the salmon and avocado delight, above, is as served at SONEVA FUSHI. There are poke bowls on every lunch menu in The Maldives.
Poke – pronounced PO-key – is traditionally a Hawaiian dish. The word ‘poke’ means cubed, and classically the poke bowl would have raw ahi tuna cut into cubes, although it has evolved to feature salmon, hamachi, octopus, or even tofu. Into the bowl goes other ingredients, avocado, quinoa, rice, you name it. And to add to the confusing evolution, it does not even have to be a bowl. At ANANTARA VELI a salmon version turned out to be a plate with its circumference turned vertical for two centimetres, holding the fish, circular coils of cucumber lengths, slices of avocado, some green leaves, and a neat round shape of quinoa.
Girlahead thinks back further, much further, to the days of chopped salad, a description barely used today. The ultimate chopped salad must be the McCarthy Salad in the Polo Lounge & Patio of The Dorchester Collection’s THE BEVERLEY HILLS HOTEL. Every time Girlahead lunches there this is THE dish to choose. Named after Neil McCarthy, the captain of the local polo team in the 1940s, it’s a Bernardaud bowl holding cubes, mostly little fingernail size, of chicken, smoked bacon, Cheddar, hard-boiled egg, tomato, avocado, beetroot and lettuce, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. Last visit, to be honest, Girlahead asked to have it un-chopped and, realistically, it did not taste half as good but the entire experience was memorably riveting thanks to the charismatic conversation of the historic hotel’s MD, John Scanlon.
The word ‘poke’ also applies to fashionista femails’ bonnets in the first decade of the 19th century. You know the shape, rather like the dark blue and maroon headwear of Salvation Army ladies, though pokes in civilian life were usually black. Let’s stick with pokes in edible parlance, where colour is a main feature. As shown.