In Thailand, durian is the King of Fruit, but in my world, jackfruit reigns supreme.
I had never even heard of jackfruit before moving overseas. Even after moving to Asia, it took me a while to try it. I think I avoided it (probably thinking it was durian) until jackfruit “petals” were on a breakfast buffet at a conference I attended in Thailand. Then I was hooked!
Here’s what it looks like before it’s cut up:
Enormous. And ugly. It’s the size of a bulldog, but looks like you might use it to fight off trolls who are attacking your castle. (Well, I guess bulldogs might help with that, too.) If you’ve seen durian, you can see why I might confuse the two if I wasn’t familiar with either. Now, with experience, I can easily tell the difference between their size and types of spikes. Durian is smaller with spikier spikes. (Making it better for troll battles, I suppose.)
But, let’s talk about the most infamous of differences: durian has earned its right to be banned in elevators and subways. It stinks! Jackfruit has a pretty strong scent, too, but it’s not offensive enough to be booted from enclosed spaces.
Vendors will cut up the fruit different ways (because ain’t nobody gonna carry that whole thing home – it’s the largest fruit in the world). Sometimes they just break it into big chunks that include the rind. Some will remove the edible fruit sections from the rind, take out the seeds, and sell the fruit in neat little trays.
The taste is something in the neighborhood of a banana, but the texture is much firmer. The trick is eating it before it gets overripe, when it turns mushy and sickly sweet. You want it to be firm—almost crisp—and pleasantly sweet.
NPR ran a story that a university in India was promoting jackfruit as an ideal crop to provide a nutritious source of food in areas facing food insecurity. I think that sounds like a delicious solution!