What Does Breadfruit Actually Taste Like?

What Does Breadfruit Actually Taste Like?

Onions and peppers, sauteed

Image Credit: Genie Gratto

The recipe made enough for two 8-by-8 pans—I figured we'd have one for dinner, and one for lunch the next day. "I hope you like it," I announced to my husband. "We have a lot of it."

Once assembled, the casserole went in the oven, and came out looking golden brown and beautiful. My husband and I eagerly tucked into our plates of Breadfruit Pie, him first, then me following.

Breadfruit casserole

Image Credit: Genie Gratto

"Is it OK?" I asked after his first bite.

"It's good," he said. "Needs more salt."

I followed his lead and salted my serving before putting the first bite in my mouth.

That first bite was, well, fine. Indeed, breadfruit seems to be pretty bland, and the casserole, accordingly, was not altogether exciting. But I found myself having a really strange reaction to the texture of the baked ulu—I was having trouble getting it down. Trust me when I say this doesn't happen often, folks. I eat just about everything, even if I don't love it. But my husband was puzzled at how much difficulty I was having with it.

"I think it's fine," he said. "It's kind of like a potato casserole." He went back for seconds, while I considered myself victorious in eating a single serving, and was already wondering whether someone in the neighborhood might be interested in taking our other pan and baking it themselves.

My verdict? I'm very glad that I got to try breadfruit and to cook with it in American Samoa, where it's local, fresh, and in season. I'm also glad I got to try two different ways of making it, which means I still go home with a memory of a breadfruit preparation I liked. But I probably would try a different preparation if I made it again—while the recipe I used worked just fine, I simply didn't love it.

Be assured of this: I'm going to hang onto that long-ago memory, when I thought breadfruit tasted like freshly baked bread, and I was jealous of Robinson Crusoe's desert island diet. But knowing what I know now, if I happen to shipwreck onto a deserted, South Pacific island, I'll probably rely more on the coconuts for sustenance than my long-romanticized breadfruit.

Genie blogs about gardening and food at The Inadvertent Gardener, and tells very short tales at 100 Proof Stories.

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