I want to introduce you to (or remind you of) the largest, weirdest, stickiest fruit ever. It smells funny, weighs 20-70lbs, is green and bumpy on the outside, and has a core of industrial strength adhesive inside. Sound appetizing? Well, it’s amazing. While jackfruit is native to India, it can be found all over Uganda. In south central, it’s affectionately referred to as ffene (Fen-neh).
It’s low in saturated fat, but super high in potassium, calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, and vitamin C and B-6. It grows year round. It’s drought resistant, heat resistant, you can eat it ripe (yum!) or unripened but cooked. The seeds can be made into a savoury paste, the leaves are a nice treat for the family goats, and the tree is a hard wood – so infinitely useful. See? Freaking super food.
But I’m not trying to sell you jackfruit because of its natural properties and its potential to replace many starchy staples as global climate change plays havoc with food security in many countries. I want you to know just how wonderfully cultural jackfruit is – at least for us, here in Uganda.
Truthfully, my first jackfruit experience was in Jamaica. I was given some as a tourist. Not particularly social, so not particularly memorable. Upon arriving in Uganda, I was finally properly exposed to jackfruit. You see, Ugandans are a social people. Almost everyone in Uganda has a home village. And that home has jackfruit trees. Sharing jackfruit with 17 of your closest friends and family, is a serious childhood memory. In fact, urban Ugandans, stuck in their Kampala offices, order small plates of perfectly prepared jackfruit to share, as an afternoon snack. Nostalgic and social for them, an income generating activity for their suppliers!
Take a walk through any small holder farm. You’ll see men and women digging. After a while, you’ll see them sitting in the shade, sharing a jackfruit, chatting away. It’s actually rather hydrating after a sunny morning in the garden.
More than once I’ve been approached in the village by a 3′ little guy holding a 2′ panga in one hand, and a 25lb jackfruit in the other. Before you can say “what the…” he’s got the thing cut open and is offering you some. Welcome food. Hospitality is not a joking subject in Uganda.
See this guy? He’s called Fred. But not in our compound. Here, he’s called Uncle Ffene. He climbs our jackfruit trees, taps them, throws them down, cuts them open and feeds everyone! He’s a popular guy.
Here’s my family in action. Jackfruits everywhere.
When new volunteers come, they almost always get a try. We love to share. And it never fails to satisfy. Anyone out there have any rad photos with jackfruit? Please forward – we’ll feature them on our Instagram (#jackfruit)! Want to try some? Check out our website, and join us!
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