Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Exotic Breadfruit

Today while being bombarded with news of the US elections I had a real Jamaican lunch of saltfish, fried breadfruit and johnny cakes. I recalled telling a foreigner about the breadfruit and he had no idea what it was so this is for those others out there who might be wondering the same thing.

The breadfruit is as its name suggests a fruit that is commonly found in the Caribbean. It is round to spherical, with rugged green skin, dense and fairly weighty (five pounds is not unusual). Here is what it looks like on the tree:

It is quite common to find the tree growing in many yards in Jamaica, even in urban areas, which is interesting because this tree can be enormous reaching heights of up to 66 feet. The rich green leaves as you can see are quite beautiful and resemble the fig leaves. Some say they can be crushed and used as a remedy to lower high blood pressure.

In Jamaica the most popular method of preparing the breadfruit is to roast it. This is done by putting the whole fruit on the grill and cooking until the skin turns brownish black. It is then peeled, cored and served. Some people enjoy it boiled and yet others fry it after it has been roasted. Like the banana, potato and plantain, it can be made into chips too. By the way, its name is not accidental as it does remind of the taste of bread. Here are some more pics.

This fruit like so many others came to the Caribbean from the pacific islands. It is said that 352 plants were specifically brought to Jamaica by Captain Bligh from Tahiti. It was hoped that it would provide good food to the slaves on the plantations as it was, like rice and potato, rich in carbohydrates and considered a good staple. The slaves however hated it and instead fed it to the animals.

Today it can be found in many Jamaican restaurants and is a favourite side to our national dish ackee and saltfish. Oh ackee, you don't know what that is? I'll write about that soon.

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