Sunday, 22 March 2009

Peeking At Pika: Fruit A Pain

No D's and E for Epinards didn't inspire me so let's move on to

F is for Fruit a pain Fouyapen Breadfruit

You may recall from an earlier post that breadfruit is a very close relation to the chataignier, with the difference that it doesn't have seeds (and has smaller leaves and a smoother skin)

A bit of history - breadfruit plants were in fact on the HMS Bounty at the time of the famous mutiny. Whilst all the crops were thrown overboard, Captain Bligh returned to Tahiti and succesfsully took a crop over to the West Indies in 1791. It was intended as an excellent (and cheap) nutritious food for slaves; ironically, when it finally made it to them they disliked the taste and refused to eat it!
Breadfruit is known as the poor man's food here and there are trees literally all over the island. In these days of MacDonalds and pasta, it is not particularly appreciated by the young generation and so you can find the fruit in abundance rotting under trees. Not so at Pika! Mamie and Papy being very fond of it will use (or sell) just about every fruit that emerges.

Apparently it got its name because when baked or roasted, it tastes and smells like freshly baked bread. I have to say that this has not been my experience - must be used to a different kind of bread!The breadfruit is ripe when it has little white latex marks on the skin, and Bertie tells me that it is only good to eat when it is picked rather than fallen on the ground (either it is unripe or it is over ripe and will explode!).Enjoying it

Breadfruit can be used in tons of different ways:

The most common way in Mamie's kitchen is simply boiled. She peels off the green skin and the inside seedy part (a bit like the inside of an apple, I shall put a photo on next time we eat one!) and boils for a bit. It is then served with a meat or fish dish and other racines.
Her other favourite use for it is in bebele, a traditional soup from Marie-Galante, for which it is diced into tiny cubes.
It can also be baked, boiled, roasted or steamed - now that breadfruit season is back on I would like to try some of these out myself.
I tried mashing it with potato for a shepherd's pie once but you really could tell the difference and I am not sure I liked it!
Bertie tells me we ate a souffle - gratin made with breadfruit but I don't remember that one amongst all my experience of Caribbean cuisine!
One way of getting the new generation to eat breadfruit is making it into chips.

Nor is it restricted to savoury dishes:
A new use of breadfruit is in cakes and in a traditional Guadeloupean drink, chaudo. This is a (very delicious!) hot milky drink usually made with eggs, condensed milk and spices but breadfruit can replace the eggs. It is traditionally served with a plain cake that you dip in it at the party after a child's First Communion, but now it is found at all sorts of occasions.
Before the fruit comes out, the long spongy male flower is known as the popote and this can also be used to make a sweet snack.

We had a go at this, firstly soaking the popote
then scratching off the outer fluffy layer
Next step was to boil them in a syrup made with spices and then leave to cristallise in the sun, but we didn't quite make it that far! I look forwad to tasting the outcome one day...Good for you

Breadfruit is a great source of energy with low levels of protein and fat and a moderate glycemic index. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium with small amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron. Some varieties contain small amounts of folic acid.

1 comment:

evie winter said...

Funnily enough that breadfruit doesn't look vaguely appetising or sound it either. I can't get away from the idea that it is basically break in a fruit. :):)