Sunday, August 24, 2008

Betel Nut

Okay, to discuss betel nut. Apparently Popondetta, which is where we were at, has some of the best betel nut there is around. Hopefully that would explain some of the fascination that people have with it. There are a few different ways that people can partake of the nuts: one way is to simply chew on the nut itself, the preferred method is to mix it with lime and mustard. The latter concoction turns the teeth red and makes a pleasant looking puddle when expectorated. It is pretty easy to pick out who does and does not chew the betel nut, you only have to look at the teeth. People who do it have almost bright red teeth (the ones that are left anyway). They take the nut, take a small bite of the mustard seed, dip it into lime, and then chew it up. Apparently when you mix it this way it becomes a bit of a stimulant. It is not dissimilar to tobacco I suppose, but it seems a bit odd, especially when you consider that somebody had to be the first to discover this mixture. It makes you wonder how many other things the intrepid inventor mixed it with first before deciding to mix it with lime and mustard, or maybe they just mixed lime and mustard and then began experimenting, I don’t know. I guess that it has been passed down for a long time, (I know that it was being done that way in the Philippines when Magellan made his infamous stop there), according to the PNG guys we worked with it could be in the four digit range of years. Everywhere you go there, you see nice, bright red ropes of betel nut expectorant, at first I thought that it was blood, but quickly realized my mistake when I saw some lady hawk a giant one on the sidewalk. There is some betel nut chewing that goes on here in Micronesia, but it does not take on the huge status that it does in PNG. I will have more to say on that topic when I discuss the scope of work we have at the hospital we are working on

No comments: