"..a bardy view!"

Breadfruit, Bligh and Bounty

Shopping on the North End Road, West Kensington, as I do at least once a month (one of the best food markets in London incidentally), it is rare I come across a fruit never previously encountered. 

My knowledge of the Mutiny on the Bounty from three movies and other snippets Tahiti-lagoon300 of information centred around the ship of that name, under commission to the British Royal Navy to collect breadfruit and take them to the West Indies and plant them to provide a food source for slaves.

Unfortunately the slaves didn't get them on this occasion in 1789.

So enamoured by the tropical islands of Tahiti where they were abundant, the crew, lovingly adored by the natives, decided to revolt. Well, who could blame them!

Of course, it was decidedly un-British to have His Majesty's matelots behaving as if they were on holiday in Tenerife, being wooed by beautiful half-naked women, and prancing around on sun drenched beaches – and all with the attended benefits.

Captain Bligh had a problem with discipline, to the exBountytent that when he finally upped anchor, his crew were not best pleased.

It is the measure of the man that, human as he was, he upheld the dignity of his office.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown (Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2, Act 3, Scene 1). It's lonely at the top!

Well, everyone knows the story – Fletcher Christian and his motley mutineers having sent the captain adrift in a rowing boat, eventually sailed the Bounty to settle on a remote island called Pitcairn. There they sunk the ship and formed a community.

Meanwhile, the erstwhile Bligh managed to eventually make land through a feat of incredible endurance, suffered a court martial and, vindicated, embarked on a mission to retrieve his lost command.

It's a fantastic tale. And very true.

But what was breadfruit? Ever since I first heard of the story, I had never seen one. The very name is a juxtaposition. Bread? Fruit? They don't fit well together! Astonishingly I'd never even bothered to find out – until today.

Blog fodder comes at the most unlikely moments, and this was one.Breadfruit

I was amazed by seeing them on display at the fruit stall. They are roughly the size and shape of rugby balls and very green. The price was £1.39lb. So I chose one out of curiosity to find the average price – four quid! egads!  The old empire wasn't slow in coming forward I thought.

I said to the girl serving me if she'd heard of "Mutiny on the Bounty"? That was a mistake, Whilst she looked at me with a glazed expression (the lights were on but no one was home) her boss suddenly appeared – one of those die hard no-nonsense market-stall Brits and said "Yes cock! I have! Mel Gibson was in it!"

"Well this is what it was all about" I said, lovingly caressing the aesthetic globe.

"Wot? Mel Gibson made a film about this!" she replied looking at it all agog.

Anyway, I attempted to give my history lesson, but by then she'd latched onto a sales pitch:

"Get yer Mel Gibson breadfruits 'ere! Only a pound a pound! The real deal! Fresh from Tahitiwiwee!"

Maybe she was taking the mickey – but that's London folk! Serves me right for being such a smart-arse!

I bought one (I'd have looked a jerk not too) but I haven't a clue now what to do with it!


July 29, 2009 - Posted by | History |

1 Comment »

  1. Is bread fruit just another name for brinjal or are they different? If not slice up a couple slices, slap some flour on ’em, and fry with your breakfast. Lovely. Lovely post as usual. Provocative, historical and all done with a lively sense of humour. Keep them coming.


    Comment by Spook Moor | August 6, 2009 | Reply

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