It’s a well known traditional practice, a favorite past time and now has already made its mark in the modern era and with so many people enjoying it, the complications it brings when chewed doesn’t really matter to anyone, or does it? Especially to the natives of this lovely land of paradise. Yes, I’m talking about the quite popular and famous trio:
The Betel nut – the leader of the pack, has on outer greenish skin layer when its ready but turns yellow when hard, this is peeled off revealing the nut within which is the part that the people consume. By itself the nut is quite soft and bitter on taste and causes a lot of salivary secretions, but sometimes the harder nuts can be just chewed all on its own without the mustard or lime.
The Mustard – is a soft long thin fruit which has a outside greenish color with a light green interior and white tiny round seeds, and it grows from a creeping plant. Occasionally if there are no mustard fruit available than the stem of the plant will almost do the same job as the fruit itself when chewed. There is a variety to choose from and all quite sour but one or two are sourly pleasant and anyway it is this sourness that gives the added nice flavor, well that’s my opinion.
The Lime – this is probably the most vital of the three ingredients that combines and completes the mixture. The substance is derived from Sea shells or coral which is burned until quite powdery and then strained until all that remains is a fine, smooth white powdery finish. Nothing else is added, the substance is consumed just as it is, but in small quantities as too much does burns the inner mucous tissues of the mouth and consequently leads to diseases you don’t want to know
That’s what all the fuss is about in the Pacific countries especially in Papua New Guinea, in no particular order are these three ingredients chewed together and either of them cannot be left out. The result of these substances put together is a reddish mixture and a taste that is indescribable, but it is that wonderful effect that it gives to your mind and body that most people would probably highlight.
The feeling is amazing, as what a sedative drug would do to you. For a short period, you experience a feeling of comfort and well being with heightened excitement and an overall sense of pleasure and satisfaction of life which ends in ten minutes (can be longer) but starts again when you chew another one. Of course there is an added bonus of spitting the juices every now and then which I think gives the consumer a feeling of freedom (I think) and everything turns red everywhere you spit, not a pretty sight. Also the fact that it can sometimes give you bad upset stomach if swallowed in excess.
Well there you have it, a brief description on this mind blowing addictive habit that we have here. It does also have an impact on the social issues of our communities but that of course is another story, stay with me.