When it comes to jumbo fruits, look no further than the mighty yaca (jackfruit) – cultivated in abundance on the Nayarit coastline and, of course, used in Asian cuisine for centuries.
Known as the world’s largest fruit, the sweet yellow/orange yaca is gaining popularity in Mexico as more people seek to improve their diets and nutrition habits.
Most yaca devotees in metro-area Guadalajara head to one of the city’s lively mercados (markets) to replenish their supplies.
Roberto Arellano has been selling yaca at his stall at the Alcalde market near the Palacio Federal (home to the local offices of Mexican Immigration) for the past 15 years.
“I do a good trade with regular customers,” he told the Reporter. “People like the flavor of yaca. They tell me it tastes like many fruits combined, such as mango, banana, apple, guayaba. It has a different flavor for each person.”
Yacas can be as diminutive as two kilos, or as massive as 35 kilos.
“Just don’t let a big one fall on your head,” Arellano joked. “It will probably kill you.”
Yacas grow year round. Arellano gets most of his from suppliers in Guayabitos, a tourist town on the Nayarit coast. Extracting the fleshy fruit bulbs can be a nuisance, he admits, as the interiors are packed with a thick perianth and, often, a sticky sap.
While Asian cooks have developed multiple dishes with yaca, including savory options, most people in Mexico either simply eat the fruit, or use it in licuados (smoothies) or agua fresca (flavored water).
While he has never experimented himself, Arellano said yaca seeds can be cooked, grilled or roasted, and the outer skin and “hairs” (telas)
used in soups.
Few of Arrellano’s customers buy the whole fruits. Most prefer to purchase the extracted flesh, which he sells in 250-350 gram bags for just 25 pesos a pop – a real bargain!
Arellano’s stall is at the western entrance of the market, on Calle Joaquin Angulo, between Liceo and Pino Suarez. He also sells the more acidic guanabana (soursop), plus a range of other fruits and berries, including raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cranberries, all at very reasonable prices, significantly cheaper than at a city supermarket.