A Tour Through Our Little Saigon and a Jackfruit

These past two weeks have been crappy for me. I’m fighting bilateral ear infections, thanks to daily swimming. Most days I stayed in my PJs and banged my head against the walls. Ears are constantly popping. When I wasn’t doing that, I was between the sheets sleeping, and now that I am feeling better I am stir crazy.

I spent some time gathering up pics to share with you. You have most likely heard me mention Little Saigon. I use it as a setting in my book Naked Alliances. We have a thriving Vietnamese population here in Orlando and their shops are seen all around, but Little Saigon, situated on Colonial Drive (highway #50), is where they are concentrated. Colonial Drive is a major east-west thoroughfare. Many cities and towns have a Vietnamese village and ours looks like this:

 

The buildings are painted in carnival colors. It’s hard to see just how busy it is from still pics, but it’s a hub of activity. There are tons of restaurants, soup spots mostly, Asian markets, and import shops. The aromas of stir-fries and fragrances of mixed herbs permeate the air. There is a lot of neon at night, but I don’t have any night shots. It’s all very colorful.

One of my favorite shops is an Asian market where they split jackfruit to share samples enticing people to buy. The little children (like me) gather to slurp up the slimy, sticky, yellow fruit. Not to gross you out, but it’s like a huge wad of phlegm that tastes like a cross between cotton candy and bananas, with a little tang and a creamy but firm, rubbery texture. If you have never tried it and run across one do give it a try. I highly recommend it. (Just don’t confuse it with the durian fruit which looks similar, tastes just as sweet, but smells like horse manure.) The jackfruit sections have a seed in the center about the size of a chestnut that you have to spit out.

We don’t grow jackfruit here. We import it from Indonesia where men climb thirty to forty feet high to wrap a sling around the fruit and cut it down. One of my characters has a brief encounter with this exotic fruit in my story while on a mission to Little Saigon.

This is where we were today, just thought I might bring you along on a tour. Later this week, I will show you more of our beautiful downtown area.

38 thoughts on “A Tour Through Our Little Saigon and a Jackfruit

  1. With all of your literary output, it’s hard to imagine you doing much sleeping. Glad you are feeling somewhat better.

    And thanks for the tour through Little Saigon. I have never heard of jackfruit before and would feel a little ambivalent about tasting it. I guess I’d have to concentrate on the cotton candy and bananas part.

    • According to wiki, The word “jackfruit” comes from Portuguese jaca, which in turn, is derived from the Malayalam language term, chakka. It’s the size of a watermelon and a whole one costs like $75-90. Just like what the Japanese pay for our watermelons.

      Thanks for the well wishes. I’m still fighting the ear popping, but the pain is gone.

      • This is really making me think the fruit business is all about scamming people. The stuff is insanely expensive and some of it doesn’t last more than a few days.

        Good to hear that the pain is gone.

        • If you have local growers you can get it cheap at co-ops. You’re right, part of the problem is shelf life. We used to grow blueberries on the farm and had all we could eat, can/freeze and more. So we sold quarts at the local co-op, like a farmer’s market, for just a couple of dollars. The other day I paid five dollars at Publix for just a tiny half pint. And they weren’t nearly as good. I keep wondering if a jackfruit would grow here if I planted the seed.

          • Wouldn’t you have to climb the big tree to get to the jackfruit? I think the biggest disappointment is the pre-cut pineapple that I love, but never lasts as long as I want it to. Either I eat it within two days or it goes bad on the third day.

            • You are right about the climbing. It probably would not shake loose. I grew a papaya tree once, and the fruit was sky high the second year it fruited. Most of it went to the rats because I couldn’t get it down. Then it froze and died. A big mess to clean up in the yard. 😦

  2. Hope you’re feeling better! Thank you for the tour. I had no idea there was a large Vietnamese area near you–not that I actually ever thought about it before. 🙂 There seem to be more Vietnamese restaurants in my area, and a tiny one opened in a nearby town. I really need to explore the markets in Philadelphia though.

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