Palm Wine, Anyone?

Koh Chang, Thailand
I was watching a show on Nat Geo about people in India who make a coconut toddy out of the sap of the palm tree. It's pretty cool; they climb up to the top and tap the tree and put a gourd under the tap. They then leave the gourd up in the tree for a few days. When they take it down, it is liquor. This liquor has to be drunk in one day, or else it becomes vinegar. However, they do use this vinegar in curries and other dishes, so it doesn't go to waste.

After watching that, as well as traveling to a few places with palm trees, it is really amazing how many things the palm tree can be used for.

Obviously there is the coconut, a great fruit and one of my favorite shakes!

Next we have heart of palm, which is delicious, but apparently they have to kill the tree to get it, so it's not very practical, and this accounts for it's price at Trader Joes

There are also date palms, which "date" back to 5000 years ago when the Middle Eastern cultures used them as a hardy source of food that didn't go bad on long desert journeys.

In Malaysia, they have huge farms of palm trees that they use to harvest palm oil. There are two types, palm oil which is used for cooking and palm kernel oil which is used for soap. (this is actually sad, because it is destroying the natural landscape, as apparently they can get more money for the oil than they can for other land uses, such as preserving natural forests)

The betel nut is often chewed in eastern Asia as a mild drug. I tried it when I was in the Philippines. They take the nut and a piece of leaf, together with a bit of snail shell powder (I am actually not sure and probably don't want to know what it was), and you wrap it all together and stick it in your mouth. You then chew and chew and chew and then spit and spit and spit. I did not get any feeling from it, although the locals swear by it's euphoric effect. The only effect I saw was that they all had brown, rotten teeth!

In many places Palm leaves are used as roofing material.

There are many other uses, which I didn't even know about and found on WikipediaCoir is a coarse, water-resistant fibre from the outer shell of coconuts. It is used in doormats, brushes, mattresses, and ropes. Dragon's blood is a resin used in dyes, varnishes and incense, can come from the fruit of the rattan.  Some peoples living in palm-rich areas use palms to make many of their necessary items and food. Palm leaves are also valuable to some peoples as a material for thatching or clothing [14].

In California, they are used as decoration, and I have heard that a full sized tree costs upwards of 50,000 dollars. I don't know if there is any truth to this. 

Also, as a side note, Girl With The Red Hair did a post about what she was writing about on her blog a year ago. I thought this was interesting, so I went to my blog to find out: What was I doing for the past few years in March?

In March 2010:
I was cooking top ramen in my hotel coffeepot.
I got my first tag from Jess, one of my first real followers!

In March 2009:
I ran the New Bedford Half Marathon.

In March 2008:
I was hanging out with Luis at the Boca Juniors stadium in Argentina.

In March 2007:
I was celebrating St. Pats at the Bulldog in New Orleans.

Aren't blogs great! They are like the best and weirdest journal you could ever have.

What about you: Have you tried palm wine? Do you like coconuts? What were YOU doing last March? 

1 comment:

  1. I have sort of avoided going back and reading my posts from a year ago because a year ago this Monday is when I left this really awful job that was really sucking the life out of me. So last year was a really really dark period of my life... But I have come so far and am SO much more happy now, so it's good to know i have made progress!!


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