Jacked by a Jackfruit

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

"It's actually quite good!"

My co-worker David smiled as he brought out a small baggy of oddly shaped orange, fruit, I guessed. "It's called a jackfruit."

"Fascinating," I thought. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but nowadays, few foods actually strike me as new or unheard of so David easily wrested my attention away from whatever it is I'm paid to do (also anything shiny, pretty, noisy, alive, or edible will easily grab my attention). It also shows I watch way too much Food Network, and read too many cookbooks.

Jackfruit is a fruit often found in Brazil and Southeat Asia, and these bad boys are huge. Imagine the fattest baby you've ever seen, and then double that. That is the size of full blown jackfruit. It's actually used often in cooking in these areas for curries, puddings, and in dried strips. It's a basic staple in Southeast Asia since they're so cheap ($3) and when tried or boiled can last for prolonged periods of time and feed whole families. The most common way to prepare it is to simply peel the leathery strips out and let them ripen, and boil the seeds.

In the U.S. however, they can cost about $40 fresh for a medium sized one. Other than that, you might be able to find them canned in syrup or in pre-dried strips. By in the U.S. I also mean on the west or east coast. Sorry middle America, but your chances of finding it are slim to none.

Anyways, I took the slightly slippery orange fruit and down the hatch it went.

Now I was raised on good manners, you never spit out food unless you are choking. Period. However, apparently jackfruit tastes like cantaloupe. Cantaloupe makes me yak. I tried my best to hold it in, and chew it while feigning interest in whatever David was saying, but my eyes were staring at the trash can and all I could think was, "OH MY GOD! IT TASTES LIKE CANTALOUPE! WHY, MERCIFUL GOD, WHY?! WHAT HAVE I DONE TO ANGER THEE!? oh that, WELL STILL!"

I finally said, "It tastes like cantaloupe."

"It does!" David replied with a smile, happy I recognized the familiar taste sensation.

"I'm sorry, I hate cantaloupe." And promptly spit it into the trash. "I'm so sorry, I really don't mean to be rude," wiping the remains off my tongue with a tissue.

Luckilly, he was not offended. We all learned I am not a fan of the fleshy, sticky strips of jackfruit. He then offered me the seeds. Jackfruit seeds look like brazil nuts, and once boiled, are perfectly edible. They taste like garbanzo beans, and are quite tasty. With a very slight hint of cantaloupe on the back of the tongue. Nummers. Another scream / prayer in my head.

It's always fun to try new things, and it's my belief you always should. But hey, I guess the occassional bad fruit (and I suppose food poisoning) are the prices food lovers pay.

Jackfruit Links
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackfruit
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/jackfruit_ars.html

8 comments:

  1. Oh wow I remember these from my childhood. I grew up in Asia so we had plenty of these, although I am with you I was not a big fan. Not a canteloupe lover myself.

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  2. My parents are Sri Lankan so grew up eating jackfruit. After they moved to London somehow managed to find these things canned. I used to really like the flesh but couldn't stand the seeds. It's probably the way mum used to curry them that put me off. Think Brazil nut curry. Weird and not good.

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  3. LOL, at least I'm not alone. I also have to say I'm not a fan of kiwi horned melons.
    Next on the "exotic" fruit list: Starfruit!

    Ros: I dunno Brazil nut curry has a strange repulsive, yet enticing, sound to it.

    JenJen: Yeah, Canteloupe and Honeydew; so gag.

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  4. Weird -- in Oz we had something they called jackfruit, but it was not really at all sweet -- more like artichoke actually. They used it in savory dishes. Must be something else that those crafty Ozzies just hijacked heh) the name for?

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  5. OK! I am not crazy!
    http://keeptrying.wordpress.com/2006/08/08/kadgi-sukkeraw-jackfruit-curry/

    That is the jackfruit I had in Australia. And it was quite good!

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  6. these really big fat ugly and smelly jackfruits are very widely grown in India too.Its amazing if you see the trees on which they grow, u'd wonder how on earth can it carry so many of these gigantic fruits.There are so many of them there and they even grow on the trunk.But they reak to the 7th heaven.they are by far the foulest smelling fruit/veggie i have ever come across ! yuk yuk ! the other Asian version of this is called Durian which is much smaller in size and a little mellow on the stink !

    and no they don't taste like cantaloupe and honey melon.I love those fruits and this one definately doesn't come close to them.

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  7. Kate - they totally taste like cantaloupe, at least to me they do...

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  8. Kate- It's the durian, not the jackfruit, that smells bad. The durian smells so bad in fact that it's banned from public areas:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Singapore_MRT_Fines.jpg

    I can see how you might get them confused though, as they look similar, but they sure don't taste or smell the same. Durian tastes like rotted mushy onion, and jackfruit tastes like sweet melon.

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~Garrett

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