Off the Beaten Path: Jackfruit at Tony’s Art on Canal Street

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Long ago this Canal Street storefront must have sold art, or more likely knockoff handbags. These days it hawks something far more interesting: fresh jackfruit. The impressive array of huge green fruit looks like something out of a science fiction flick. At first I didn't know what they were. A sign with two Chinese characters and the English word “sweet” indicated that the mystery fruit costs $4 a pound.

When the couple working this hole in the wall told me the ginormous green ovoids were jackfruit, I jumped at the chance to buy some. Not willing to commit to a gigantic wedge, I grabbed a small container. They told me that many people cook the seeds, but that it was fine to eat the fruit itself out of hand, which is exactly what I did as I strolled down Canal Street. I had all intention of taking a closeup of the jackfruit flesh in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, but it was so damn good it was gone long before Grand Street.

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Until very recently my experience with this tropical fruit has been limited to gudeg, an Indonesian preparation of young jackfruit stewed with cumin and coriander that bears a startling resemblance to barbecued beef. These fleshy yellow lobes were nothing at all like their younger cousins. They were sweet, but not overly so, and tasted slightly of bananas with a hint of pineapple. And at $2.50 a container, the price was pretty sweet too.

Jackfruit Vendor, aka Tony’s Art

194A Canal Street, New York NY 10013 (map)