Meat Lovers Can Hardly Digest Article That Claims Jackfruit Tastes Like Pork

09/05/2016 7:20 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
Olaf Kruger via Getty Images
Jackfruit, Jack Tree -Artocarpus heterophyllus-, detail of the fruit, Peermade, Kerala, India

Disbelief prevailed in parts of India after a report in American media claimed that jackfruit tasted like pork. Like many good things outside her borders, America has come late to the jackfruit party, and with the fanaticism of the new convert, she is thrusting greatness upon our humble jackfruit.

I have some locus standi in the matter of jackfruit.

For years, every time we had to observe niramish (this involves giving up non-vegetarian food), in my grandmother's house, one dish would be mandatorily served: Echor. Echor is the stage of jackfruit when it's not ripe yet.

Every time I would refuse a serving of enchor, my grandmother would try to convince me saying that it is basically veg mutton--she would call it gaach patha--which translates to mutton that grows on trees.

But, we both knew enchor may be a beloved food, but it's nothing like mutton. This was years ago.

"This exotic fruit tastes like pork, and it could save millions from starvation," says this Business Insider piece, packing in two dubious claims in one headline.

"It is cropping up in the vegan and vegetarian communities because of the flavour that unripened jackfruit adopts after an hour or so of cooking, which resembles that of pulled pork."

This troubling notion, it seems, hit the shores of Britain first, in the form of a piece last year in The Guardian. And this idea can be traced back to Meriel Armitage, the owner of London's Club Mexicana, which serves vegan street food.

That is strange, because in all these years of eating the fruit in an near-infinite variety of preparations, it has never tasted anything like pork to me.

So, we asked a bunch of people who have tasted both cooked jackfruit and pulled pork, to tell us what they thought of it.

"No, there's no similarity between the two. It's like saying Nutrela (soya) nuggets taste like chicken. Only someone who's never tasted chicken or pork will say so," said Rajyasree Sen, a former restauranteur and writer.

Ruchira Hoon-Phillip, who has participated in Masterchef India, and is now a food blogger, had a different take on it. "It's meaty alright. But I suppose it's more like mutton," she said.

"I think jackfruit tastes like jackfruit," said Anup Kutty, the musician-turned-restauranteur who runs The Toddy Shop in Delhi's Haus Khas Village. "If pork was kind of sweet and had seeds in it, may be, I don't know... f***, it's a difficult one," he added, sarcastically.

"I guess if you cut in cubes you can pretend it's some kind of faux pork. But to me it just tastes like echor," said Sandip Roy, a contributing editor with HuffPost India who has lived in San Francisco, loves that place, and can be counted to be an impartial arbitrator in these matters.

We also tried asking a foreigner.

"Once you get past the rubbery chewiness, jackfruit can be addictive. There's something oddly satisfying and filling in eating jackfruit. But it tastes nothing like pulled pork. Nothing," says Manon Verchot, a French journalist based out of India.

What do you think--does jackfruit taste like pork? Do let us know in the comment section.

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