The first time we saw jackfruit in a market we looked at the lumpy enormous “fruit” with suspicion. Fibrous and exotic looking, I wasn’t so sure about trying it, especially after some South African friends of ours that we’re traveling with told us the flavor was “interesting.”Usually about 10 inches in diameter, and weighing up to 30 kilograms, the greenish, bumpy exterior doesn’t exactly invite a taste like the outside of a mango.
Nikki and Danny prevailed upon me that it was essential we try it, if only for the blog. In the name of research, Nikki and I searched both Moshi and Arusha for the fruit, unable to find it. Finally walking down the street in Uganda we found it and interrogated a very nice young man for its wear abouts. Handing a huge chunk of jackfruit to Nikki, Godfrey, as with later found out, took us to his “jackfruit”man in an alley. Purchasing it for us so we didn’t have to pay the “mzungu” mark up of at least triple, we sat down with the rest of the crowd to sample. Watching us navigate the pits & flesh the locals laughed at us when Nikki proclaimed “I love it!”. The fruit was sweet and yet bland… not juicy at all, in fact rather rubbery in texture and very starchy. The flavor was good, but as my friends warned me it was “interesting.” I would eat it again, but its not exactly something I’m going to crave.
Jackfruit is indigenous to Southern Asia, so its no wonder that we haven’t come across it before. Native to India, jackfruit has been cultivated for thousands of years across southeast Asia, spreading like most things, through the trade routes. It can be eaten raw, boiled, grilled, well you get the picture.
Although we never came across it, invasive jackfruit plants have become a significant problem in Brazil. Destructive to endemic plants, the Brazilian government has started a jackfruit eradication program. Maybe we should just send Nikki.