One thing that P-daddy and I really enjoy, and which we are looking forward to having more of, is a variety of fresh fruit and veggies, particularly tropical ones. P-daddy lived in Vietnam for a while, where he developed a love of several types of fruit that many Americans have never even heard of. One of these is Jackfruit. O.M.G. I was introduced to this fruit shortly after P-daddy and I met, when he showed up at my door one day with this HUGE spiny fruit (he actually brought a second even spinier fruit called a durian, but that's a story for another day!). His wooing of me with exotic fruit apparently worked!
If you've never seen a jackfruit, here's a list of great pics, or here's our pic of just the rinds after we've cut the thing up - I was too excited about eating fresh jackfruit to remember to take a pic before we started.
As you can see, the rind is green and spiny, but it hides delicious delights inside!
P-daddy and I met in San Diego, where jackfruit was available for a fairly long season at the big Asian markets. When we moved to Texas several years ago, we quickly realized that the jackfruit season is pretty short, so we grab them whenever we can. This past week, we went and picked a nice one - this is hard to do, and we've picked too ripe and not ripe enough in the past. It's an expensive mistake, since even though the price per pound is low ($0.79 when we got our last one, but more typically $0.99 up to $1.29), a "small" jackfruit still weighs about 20 pounds. Imagine a "big" jackfruit! Apparently they can grow as big as a man's torso - we saw one yesterday that was probably 3 feet long.
This time, we got lucky, and we picked a really good jackfruit. It'd be nice if it were edible with the ease of watermelon, just slice and go with it. But no, it takes a LOT more work. The fruit pods, which are about the size of a kiwi, have to be separated from the tough fibrous material that surrounds them. This would be a lot easier to do if the fibers didn't have this really sticky white sap flowing from them. Here's what the fibers look like after the fruit has been removed:
The first time we cut a jackfruit together, it took us forever to clean up, because the sap is pretty impossible to get off of your hands, knife, table, floor and clothing. We've since learned that the best way to go about it is to coat your utensils and hands with olive or vegetable oil before starting. Cut the jackfruit into large pieces, and then pick out the fruit pods. It takes a while, but it's so worth it! When you are done you are left with perfectly gorgeous orange fruit pods, like this:
Now here's the thing. Jackfruit is common in Southern and Southeast Asia, and the jackfruit we purchase now in Texas and previously in California is imported from Mexico. Brazil also apparently is a large producer of jackfruit, where it's called jaca. We are incredibly curious as to whether or not jackfruit is grown in El Salvador. I don't remember seeing it in Guatemala, but I lived in the highlands, and it would have been more likely to grow on the coast. It may have been grown there, as I remember seeing many fruits that I was unfamiliar with at roadside stands, but I just can't remember. So, anyone know? Will we be able to get our jackfruit fix in El Salvador? (no worries if not, P-daddy is already experimenting with growing a tree!) And, while I know the English and the Portuguese, I have no idea what jackfruit is called in Spanish, so if you've got some ideas, please comment!