Things That Make Me Smile No. 214: A Strange and Wondrous Taste of Malaysia

Today my smile comes in the form of an after picture and a story:

A portion of our jackfruit haul,

My son came back from the grocery store with a question and a giant prickly object. Had I ever tried a jackfruit? he asked.

Of course, my question in return was the same to him, or at least my first question.

He told me how a Malaysian coworker of his had introduced the office to this strange but wonderful fruit. To cut it open, you must coat your hands and the knife in oil…or you will regret it. The jackfruit will paint your fingers with naturally occurring latex as you pull delicious seed pods from its grasp. The fruit portion is the pod around the seed, which has both a sweet and savory flavor I quite enjoyed. It’s similar to mango, but not as sweet.

The texture and appearance of the latex fascinated me, so yes, this was a perfect experience to prompt a smile or many. The seeds are edible and taste like chestnuts, or so I discovered when I took the rest of my questions to the Internet. We have not yet prepared those so I cannot speak to personal experience.

I enjoyed watching the dismantling of the jackfruit after it defeated my efforts to assist. My son appreciated me moving out of the way of his hacking with an oil-slicked knife in any case.

How the light shone on the latex compared to the richer colors of the pods prompted many ponders. How did the original inhabitants of the area including India and Malaysia discover and use the jackfruit’s fascinating properties? Did they braid the latex? Melt it? Eat it?

What would an 1800s shipwrecked sailor from Europe make of this resource? A fruit with enough protein to support a vegan diet plus materials far beyond those available in any European shipyard. Or would a more locally based sailor know how best to use it both for survival and to scoff at the idea of waiting for rescue?

The possibilities are endless.

A quick search will reveal a fruit almost the size of two basketballs pressed together and covered with an echoing pattern of small, pointed, furry mounds. My picture above shows only a portion of the results after both of us munched on the freshly carved pods. There are at least two more containers full…and that was a small jackfruit according to my son.

Has a friend or coworker ever guided you into a world beyond your experience? Celebrating our differences and expanding our worldviews is an important part of life in modern times. This holds true whether it’s a culture we unknowing coexist with every day or one on the other side of the planet.

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2 Responses to Things That Make Me Smile No. 214: A Strange and Wondrous Taste of Malaysia

  1. David C. McGaffey says:

    Jenn used to like jackfruit in the Philippines, but Vickie (our cook) opened it.

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