In Jamaica, the ackee fruit is a mixed blessing. Though originally native to West Africa, it migrated to Jamaica in 1778 and is now the country’s national fruit. If improperly eaten, though, ackee can cause what has been dubbed the Jamaican Vomiting Sickness — which, other than the self-explanatory symptoms, can lead to coma or death. Unripe ackee fruit contains a poison called hypoglycin, so preparers must be careful to wait until the fruit’s protective pods turn red and open naturally. Once open, the only edible portion is the yellow arilli, which surround always-toxic black seeds. With all that risk comes a delicious payoff — Jamaica’s national dish is ackee with codfish. You have to commend the bravery of whoever first tried these strange-looking fruits. The ackee is sometimes called a “vegetable brain” because only the inner, brain-shaped, yellowish arils are edible.
Native to the Malay…
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