Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jackfruit and long pants

A week or so ago we had a dish that included jackfruit. As you can see from the picture of Marcia, jackfruit grows on trees and is very large. Once in April we saw some hanging from a tree that was as large as a very big watermelon. Jackfruit is tropical, and is either identical or very similar to breadfruit, which was the cargo of the famous Bounty of mutiny fame. That night Gilbert’s cousin Mario had already prepared it, and it was cooked along with pork and coconut milk.

The other night we decided to eat jackfruit again. We began by picking one from a tree just feet from our house. This one was about as large as big butternut squash. We told Gilbert that we wanted to observe him this time so that we could do it ourselves should we like the result.

First Gilbert cut off one end, and stuck a stick part way into it lengthwise, so that he could hold it upright. He then proceeded to remove the outer skin, which is covered with small, almost sharp knobs, with his trusty bolo. Then he cut it into eighths and removed the core, almost like coring a fresh pineapple. The next step is cutting the sections into chunks roughly equal to the pieces of pork for the dish. The dish includes onions, garlic, ginger, (the g’s are hard, as in goat) small chunks of pork, preferably from the leg, and hot peppers if desired, although the ginger already brings some heat. Once cooked, the jackfruit resembles cocktail onions in shape and color. It is slightly crunchy, and has little taste by itself, but together with all the other ingredients this is a great treat.

So far we have not needed to wear long pants except when we trek in the jungle. Shorts are always sufficient. Steve has worn flip-flops more since he has arrived than in his whole life. Same goes for eating rice. We have not had bread since leaving the United States, and our waistlines have definitely gotten smaller. Most meals are cooked outdoors over firewood collected on the island.

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