When they talk about flakes of manna falling from the sky, I am sure they are talking about tostones de panapén.
Panapén or pana is what Puerto Ricans call breadfruit. The back story of how breadfruit got to the West Indies from South East Asia is actually one of the most famous seafaring tales around: The Mutiny on the Bounty.
Captain Bligh, on that ill-fated trip was trying to bring breadfruit to plant in the Caribbean for cheap slave food.
Bligh didn’t quite make it then, but, no quitter our Captain Bligh, he eventually got them to Jamaica (for an fascinating botanical version of events see this Smithsonian article by historian Caroline Alexander)
It is a tall tree with large glossy fingered leaves (that West Indians stick on their heads to reduce blood pressure) and prolific producer of heavy green balls somewhere between the size of a soccer ball and a softball.
The flesh is like a potato only denser and creamier and it tastes similar, with perhaps a bit more nuttiness and sweetness, although according to this article it is bland and tasteless. What!?!
We pare, trim and boil it to match with olive oil and strong fish, mash it with pork cracklings/garlic (or just plain mash it) to go with any meal, and, we fry it into tostones or disks, which to me are far better than any French fry around.
I love this stuff and when it is in season and I am in Puerto Rico at the same time, I eat it almost every day!!!
Tostones de panapén
Enough oil to fill the bottom of your frying pan with about ¼” oil (we used peanut; any neutral tasting oil with a high heat capacity will do)
1 lb breadfruit, hard green rind pared off and soft inner seed core removed and cut into 2-3”chunks
Salt for finishing
Tongs or other turning device
Splatter screen of some sort for the pan, if you’ve got
Tostonera (two wooden slabs, hinged) or two saucers with relative flat bottoms
Plate lined with paper towels to absorb oil
If freezing, wax paper and gallon freezer bags
Heat oil to sizzling in the frying pan.
Place as many chunks of breadfruit into the pan as will fit comfortably, with at least an inch of space between. Lower heat slightly and brown breadfruit on all sides, about 2-3 minutes, until pale-golden. As the chunks are fully browned on the outside, not cooked on the inside, place them on the paper towels.
Add the next batch of breadfruit to the pan and repeat until finished.
In the meantime, one by one, smush the chunks in the tostonera or between the top and bottom of the saucers until about ½” thick or less. Carefully remove from tostonera and return to paper towels.
(At this point, if you are planning to freeze them for another day, allow the flattened disks to cool, then layer flat in a freezer bag that is resting on a flat plate. In between layers, place a sheet of wax paper or freezer paper. Take as much air out of the freezer bag as possible and place, still laying flat on the plate, in the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can remove the plate and the tostones won’t stick. To finish, thaw and then continue with this next step.)
When you have browned and smushed all your pana, return the disks to the medium-hot oil (only a few at a time) and fry again on both sides until just starting to crisp. Remove, place on fresh paper towel to cool and blot and serve with mayo-ketchup/salt to taste.