One Bite: breadfruit

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breadfruit
Meet the fruit that brought down Lieutenant William Bligh. This starch bomb was the reason he and his crew aboard the HMS Bounty voyaged to Tahiti in 1787—to collect plants to incubate a cheap food source for slaves in the West Indies. We all know how that worked out, but after Bligh made it back to Great Britain he set sail once again, this time as a captain, and collected a couple thousand plants.

But the guy couldn't catch a break. Upon delivery they were rejected by Jamaican slaves. One taste and you can see why. There's no more aggressively boring fruit than this. Once cooked it has a texture and flavor somewhere between boiled potato and dense white bread.

breadfruit split

The breadfruit flourished anyway, according to The Oxford Companion to Food, spreading to other parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa, and people did figure all sorts of ways to consume it, like grinding it into flour, fermenting it and making it into cakes, or, in Hawaii, using it as a substitute for taro in poi. Some claim it could be the food of the future if it didn't taste like paste.

So what do you do with it when you find it in the produce section at Fresh Farms? If you're like me, you roast it over hot coals until it's soft, split it open, and peel it and the stem the core. Breathe in. When it's hot like this it really does have a yeasty aroma, and like tofu it takes on the flavors of whatever you're cooking it with. So you simmer it in a spicy curry, something like this, and if anyone turns up his nose at it you tell him a man lost his ship to bring them this fruit and damn you, man, don't you bloody cross me.

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