As long as I've used heart of palm, I never gave much thought to it's origin. Obviously it is the center 'heart' of a palm tree that was somehow removed, processed if necessary, dropped into cans, and shipped out to kitchens everywhere to be generically used in thousands of nouvelle dishes. But this was long before I had ever used a fresh palm heart. We tried to find some recently for our Heart of a Chef menu (an obvious choice ingredient for such a theme), but came up with dead-ends all around. I was miffed at how an ingredient couldn't be found in a heartbeat when we live on a peninsula with palm trees out the freakin' wazoo. It never dawned on me that they come from a palm that is not grown in the United States.
The pejibaye grows only in Central and South America and is known by a laundry list of names depending on which country it is found. It is also known as the peach palm. This entire train of thought came to a conclusion when I tasted another part of this tree which is far more exciting than even the fresh heart. Roger at Red Dragonfruit Company let me sample the nut (or what is actually the fruit) of the pejibaye at the Heart of a Chef farmer's market. The flavor is nutty, starchy within reason, and very potato-like. It's incredible. I cannot wait to use it, and Roger promised me some as soon as he gets them. He has been busy lately contracting land outside the US to grow it. The fruit cannot be imported raw into the United States, and can only be bought cooked (boiled).