On a phone call with my parents recently, they excitedly told me that my aunt found fresh jackfruit for sale at Fresh Thyme. She bought three of the them, one for herself, one for my other aunt, and one for my parents.I saw one myself when I was at the store last week, an enormous, spiky football, being sold for $1.99 a pound. I remembered to ask my parents about it when I visited them last weekend. How was the jackfruit you got? Was it good? They both blanched. No. You should contact Fresh Thyme and tell them they picked it too early. They weren’t ripe yet.
I remember eating canned jackfruit as a kid, from the Asian grocery store. They are mango colored, if I remember correctly, and sweet, with a rather fibrous, chewy texture. These days, a Google search reveals that white people are trying to capitalize on jackfruit as the next “super food,” right along with quinoa, chia, and açaí berries. Top recipes include several iterations of BBQ sandwiches with “pulled jackfruit” instead of pork.
My parents admitted they still ate the Fresh Thyme jackfruit, but there was no comparing it to the ones they had in Vietnam. My dad recalled fondly how ông nội, his father, had a jackfruit tree. Mom jumped in: do you know how jackfruit grows? Guess! I couldn’t guess. It grows on the trunk of the tree! Strange, isn’t it?
Ba continued – on the day our family prepared to leave Vietnam, the night before Saigon surrendered, ông nội picked a jackfruit and brought it along. Mẹ said she was too anxious and worried to even have a taste, but Ba remembered having some of the fresh fruit, how delicious it was.
That was 43 years ago today. I’ve been meaning to ask my dad if the not-yet-ready Fresh Thyme jackfruit is the first fresh one he’s eaten since then.