Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wonder Breadfruit

The theme of last night's supper was "Compound Words." Behold:






I'd post an image equation for the pork tenderloin, but this blog must remain G-rated due to the number of followers under the age of 5.
Many of you may not be familiar with the wonders of Breadfruit (pictured directly above), and neither was I until this past weekend, when we purchased this cute lil' specimen from Gus, self-proclaimed local Produce Cart Loverman. Breadfruit is certainly a staple of contemporary Caribbean cuisine, though not a native species. Turns out that Breadfruit has a very interesting history. Bear with me, it's true, and I'll prove it in this 500 word essay.

The History of Breadfruit
by Lauren Marsella
So, in the late 1800's Captain James Cook, a famous English explorer guy with a big ol' schnoz and a real purdy signature, and bunch of other dudes went on a grand adventure around the world in what they called the "Endeavour Expedition." One of their noble "endeavours" was to find high-calorie foodstuffs for British slaves at bargain-basement prices. The Breadfruit, discovered by them first in Tahiti, was to be the answer to their cheapskate, slave-feeding prayers. So they sailed on back to England and told the higher-ups what they had found, who in turn, called for the immediate introduction of the Breadfruit tree to the Caribbean, where they were keeping a whole bunch of their slaves. In 1787, William Bligh, a pale, bald British naval guy, was put in charge of this mission and shipped out on the HMS Bounty. Of course, he agreed to this daunting task because he was promised a crapload of gold and cash, but only if he succeeded in moving the Breadfruit tree from the South Pacific to the West Indies. The Bounty made it safely to Tahiti, where it remained for five whole months during which over 1,000 plants were collected, potted and put aboard the ship. When the British dudes decided that over 1,000 plants was enough freaking plants already, they set sail for the Caribbean because the slaves were getting hungrier and hungrier. Everything was running smoothly for a few weeks, and then blammo! The crew mutinied. Donchya hate that? I mean, after all that back breaking gardening and plant-potting. So the mutineers dumped Captain Bligh and his small herd of lemmings in a long-boat, and returned to Tahiti, land of topless Gauguin portrait native women and the man who loved them *cough cough Marlon Brando cough.* Bligh and his cronies floated around the South Pacific for like a year and a half, surviving on shark fin soup and their own urine, which they purified with a contraption sold to them by Kevin Costner's character from Waterworld. In 1791, four years after the HMS Bounty initially set sail,  Bligh commanded a second expedition to Tahiti, with not one but two ships. This time around, the British dudes got to Tahiti okay, picked up the Breadfruit, made it all the way to the Caribbean with no hassles and no mutinies, and finally made the drop off in Jamaica and St. Vincent. Bligh was even rewarded with a Royal Society medal for his money-grubbing perseverence, without which the Breadfruit might never have made it to the West Indies to nourish all those lean-bodied Africans, thus enabling them to toil harder and longer and make their British masters richer faster.  Boy, the English really came out on top with this one. With one little exception. The Breadfruit? Well, the slaves refused to eat it.
The End

See? I told you it was interesting.

There are many ways to cook Breadfruit. You can boil it, bake it, steam it, roast it, so on and so forth. I followed Gus' instructions, which were to wrap it in foil and stick it on the grill for an hour, turning it ever so slightly every 5 or 10 minutes to assure even cooking. Then you take off the foil for the last 15 minutes to get the outer skin good and charred so nice, mmmmmm. When she's charred to perfection, take 'er off, open 'er up, take out the pit, and serve with a little butter, salt & pepper. Some think it tastes like fresh baked sweet bread. Hence, the name. I served mine with grilled, locally-grown eggplant (also a very pretty piece of produce), a side of pico de gallo, and a bottle of Brut.

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