Wandering around in a store one day, I smelled the smell long before I saw the fruit; an offensive odor much like rotten onions and fermenting fruit mixed with a bit of you-know-what. In a grocery store, you can smell it and the durian from the parking lot, and trust me, it doesn't make you want to run out and buy it. In fact, it and the durian make me wonder about the first people that found the fruits in the Asian jungles;
"What is that ucky smell-lah?!"
"Hmm, dunno-lah, but, we go find it-lah!"
"Oh-lah! Look at huge seed on the ground-lah with flies-lah! Smells like rotten trash bin-lah of rotten fruit-lah."
*hears large crashing from above as something hits (and breaks) branches on its way down*
"Look up! Oh man-lah! Ahhhh-lah! BIG... seed-lah? Damn, that was close-lah! Look at the hole-lah it left in the ground-lah! That baby-lah must weigh as much as your moma-lah!"
*GAG* *Wretch* *Gag*
"Yes-lah! That is the odor-lah, must be no good."
"No-lah, it is not mushy... It is hard-lah as a rock-lah! Good-lah thing it no kill you-lah when it fell from that big-lah tall tree-la. Man! Whew! That baby stinks-lah!"
"Hey, you-lah have a hatchet-lah, let's break it!"
"Lah, it STINKS! Sure we wantta do that lah?
"Yes-lah, we see what is inside - maybe we can sell-lah!"
"Oh my-lah, it smells like rotten you-know-what, man!"
"Man-lah! This sucker-lah is tough!"
"This smells like... Oh-lah! This is BAD-lah! Gotta run-lah and be sick-lah! Be back later, dude!"
*finally breaks through that suckers hard exterior wall-lah*
"Did I say it smells like rotten you know what-lah?"
"Mmm, I think I will eat it, lah, just in case it tastes good-lah!"
"Man-lah, you should try it lah! It tastes like a crunchy banana! Just-lah hold your nose and give it a try-lah!"
*yes-lah, I think we have-lah a winner-lah! Only can find deep in the hot, mosquito infested jungle-lah, it can kill-lah falling from above, tree much too high to climb-lah, but maybe you can try-lah, or maybe wait-lah until it falls-la. We can wear-lah hardhats! It will take-lah a half a day and a bazillion gags-lah to break-lah open-lah and it smells like **it!-lah - but I-lah think we can sell it-lah and people will eat it! We-lah can get healthy! Just must hold-lah nose."
"Yes, we wait for MORE-lah!"
In the proper climate (like Singapore), the jackfruit tree is hugely impressive in size and can grow to roughly 60 feet tall. The fruit itself is noted to be the largest fruit in the world. It can weigh up to 80 pounds and be over 3 feet long. While the exterior of the fruit is not edible, the flesh and seeds are commonly eaten. When the fruit has turned from green to yellow, it is harvested, by being picked or dropping to the ground (ouch!).
Jackfruit, like durian, tends to be an acquired taste and frequently does not appeal to those unfamiliar with it. The ripening jackfruit has an odor which has been compared to the smell of rotting onions and worse. This aroma often discourages many people from trying the interior.
When the jackfruit is opened, numerous sweet, banana-like bulbs are revealed, and those people that venture to try them find them quite delicious. One variety of jackfruit has a crunchy, rather than mushy texture, and is generally preferred. Jackfruit can be eaten raw, cooked, fried, baked in cakes...
The seeds can be roasted and are compared to chestnuts in flavor. Cutting and preparing the jackfruit is somewhat difficult because the fruit is very sticky and can actually be used as glue. Most people oil their hands to prevent some of the stickiness from transferring to their hands, but washing up afterwards is still a chore.
In Asia, jackfruit is eaten raw or used in curries, soups, and stews. It also flavors various deserts and is a common ingredient in fruit salads. It is not a popular fruit among the well to do, and the fruit is very inexpensive. Not much profit can be made from the cultivation of the jackfruit - go figure. Oh, and Bangladesh claims it as its national fruit.
Singaporeans love jackfruit and durian considering them quite a treat, thus we must tolerate the odor in the grocery stores. Expats for the most part, do just that - tolerate the odor and steer away from the area of the fruit - as far away from the area as possible - but we must shop, so we do get the pleasure of tolerating it.
Yes, I must wonder about the first people to try those fruits. Must go deep in the jungles to harvest, carry out in a wheel barrow, very difficult to break open, glues your hands and lips together like super glue, smells like caca, does not wash off, is an 'aquired' taste, but they tried it anyway.
And now they make money selling it.
Someone out there is smarter than me.