Is it a vegetable? Is it meat? Nope – its fruit! A tropical fruit that grows on the trees throughout Fiji and other tropical countries. When I was younger I’d see my parents get a whole fresh jackfruit from the Asian markets and it was the most intimidating thing I’d ever seen. I refused to eat it because I couldn’t imagine it tasting good. Here I am in my thirties now posting about how much I love a food I once refused to eat. In fact a part of me is still intimated by the spikey nature of this fruit, that I opt for the canned or frozen version of jackfruit.
Growing up in Rhode Island, grocery shopping consisted of several stops. Friday nights my mom would take me to the regular local grocery store for the basic essentials, bread, milk and eggs. It was the Saturday morning trips that always felt like an adventure. We would drive into Providence to go to the Chinese markets. One for seafood – which I dreaded because of the fish market smells and quite frankly the crabs and fish eyes scared the hell out of me when I was younger -and another Chinese market right across the street from the fish market for vegetables. The last stop would be the small Indian stores for more vegetables. If it wasn’t a seafood weekend, it was most likely a chicken weekend. For that we’d travel to the famous Federal Hill in Providence where we’d go to Antonelli’s Poultry, the only live poultry store in Rhode Island.
As the weather gets colder in New England, it’s the perfect season to make this rich, warm dish. The aromas that fill our home while making palau are nostalgic. No matter where I’ve lived or traveled, there is a certain scent that will always make me feel like I’m home. For me it is the homemade Fiji masala that is sautéed with onions and garlic. There really is no describing it. You have to LIVE it to understand. My husband on the other hand is always looking for the incense and a lighter after I’m done cooking, along with opening windows. He doesn’t embrace the aromas as well as I do. Ha ha!