Have you ever heard of Jack Fruit? I’ve seen it online all over the place lately. It’s huge and weird and exotic, and apparently the fancy new super food de jure. It looks like this:
The exterior is prickly, and hard, in a weirdly artistic, mind-numbing, hypnotic sort of way. Upon first view, I assume my eyes did that red-spiral cartoon thing. I remember it like it was yesterday (it was actually 2 days ago). I had gone to HEB for shish-kabob fixins. As I was looking over the zucchini, I saw it. The Jack Fruit and I locked souls, as it drew me towards it. I had no need for a Jack Fruit. I knew I’d have to youtube how to even cut this thing. There was no way that this was a logical or necessary purchase. It went immediately into my cart.
My new fancy fruit and I made it home, where my husband promptly rolled his eyes, but was kind enough to google how to prepare this monster. Turns out, this thing is a protein substitute and people COOK IT LIKE PULLED PORK. I know. It sounds absurd, but link after link was for Jack Fruit Pulled Pork Recipes. I chose to follow* this one. Now, my husband can attest to the fact that I never actually follow recipes. Full disclosure, I looked through the pictures until I got to this line: “The process is so simple!” and then just did the saute, season, sauce, serve thing…
But let’s back up. I missed steps before I even got around to not reading the recipe. I’m skilled in screwing things up in the kitchen. The cutting instructions online specifically say to oil your hands and knife because Jack Fruit can be sticky. Not being scared to get my hands dirty, I just jumped right in with a knife, and the help of my husband, and went to town. Y’all… Jack Fruit can be sticky. As in, I washed my hands with Dawn, and when I grabbed a paper towel to dry my hands, it STUCK TO ME LIKE FEATHERS IN AN OLD CARTOON! This crap is nature’s super glue. Fake nails could be held on with this. You could garden in clay soil with fake nails held on by this stuff. You could extract dinosaur fossils from amber with fake nails held onto this stuff. This stuff may be tough enough to use as emergency liquid bandage on a WWII-level battle field. Luckily, as stated in the internet research, oil takes it right off. Reading instructions is important. I teach English… I am a failure…
So, husband and I get this all hacked to shit, and I shove it in the fridge. I stop at the store for seasoning, and spend the entire day excited about my fun new culinary adventure.
Dinner time is nearing. I prepare my skillet, my seasonings, my sauce. I saute. I prepare an avocado-broccoli slaw. I get the buns. I’m so excited to share this with my family.
Son (17) takes a bite, politely but with great trepidation. His head shakes violently back and forth as he tries to not vomit down his shirt. I assure myself that he is just being dramatic. After all, this kid doesn’t like Bratwurst. That’s just weird.
Husband (40) takes a bite. Attempts to hide displeasure in his eyes, is unsuccessful. It’s fine. Husband is a picky eater. He like meat, rice, potato, cheese. Jack Fruit is none of those things.
Father-in-law (spry septuagenarian) is my last hope. I love cooking for Pappy because he loves everything and is always super appreciative. After taking his bite, he avoids all eye-contact. The meal is officially a universal failure.
I decide to spare the 4 year old son, and make him a hot dog. Teenage son gloomily makes himself two hot pockets. Husband has yet to eat. I stubbornly make it halfway through my own Jack Fruit pulled pork sammich. Every bite is worse than the one before.
In hindsight, as a Texan, I should’ve known that there is no substitute for meat, especially when it comes to BBQ flavors. BBQ will always involve meat, wood smoke, and slow & low heat. I apologize to the BBQ kings out there for the sacrilege. I have learned my lesson.
Back to the drawing board.