Betelnut

Betelnut Comments Off on Betelnut

BetelnutBetel nut, also known as Bettlenut, Paaku, Pinang, Areca nut or Cau in Vietnamese, Chalia in the Hindi language, Supari in Bengali language and B?nláng in Taiwan, is the seed of the Betel palm (Areca catechu). Betel nuts can be chewed for their effects as a mildly euphoric stimulant, attributed to the presence of relatively high levels of psychoactive alkaloids. Chewing it increases the capacity to work, also causes a hot sensation in the body, heightened alertness and sweating. Chewing betel nuts is an important and popular cultural activity in many Asian countries.[citation needed] It is also used as an offering in Hinduism. In East and North-east India, Betel nut is chewed with Paan (Betel leaf). Betel nut and betel leaves are different in chemical compositions. Betel nuts contain arecaidine and guacine whereas the betel leaf oil contains a number of terpeneols.

The Betelnut also called Pugua or Mama’on by Guamanians are palm nuts from the areca tree. The scientific name for the tree is Areca catechu and resembles a thin coconut palm tree. These hard nuts are chewed casually like chewing gum by islanders and is a permanent feature of the cultures of the Pacific. Nut chewing is definitely an acquired habit more commonly passed down from grandparents (called guelo) to grandchildren.

Frequently, it is chewed with the betel leaf, a fresh green peppery tasting condiment. The leaf is called pupulu and different species from each island are different in taste. Betelnuts are chewed and harvested by millions of people from India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Marianas, American Samoa, Beleau, Bangladesh. The trees are found growing in moist ground and produce prodigous clusters of green fleshy nuts which mature into yellow and then brown hard nuts.

Uses
Modern day consumption

Betelnut SplitIn India (the largest consumer of betel nut), the betel nut is cut into small pieces using a special instrument called sarota, and the husk is wrapped in a “betel leaf” along with lime and may include clove, cardamom, catechu (kattha), etc. for extra flavouring. Betel leaf has a fresh, peppery taste, but, depending on the variety of betel pepper from which it comes, it can be very bitter. Experienced chewers might mix the betel nut with tobacco (the drug effect of the nicotine in tobacco resembles that of betel nut). This preparation of betel leaf with or without betel nut is commonly referred to as paan in India and Pakistan, and is available everywhere.

Betel nut is also sold in ready-to-eat pouches called Pan Masala. It is a mixture of many spices whose primary base is betel nut crushed into very small pieces. Sometimes Pan Masala also includes a small quantity of tobacco; in this case, the product is called gutka.

Betel leaf is a different species of plant than the betel nut, and not in the areca family, but the Piper family (same as pepper and Kava).

Depending on species, the nut sizes vary from thumbnail to fist size and the kernel (nut) is surrounded by husk. Chamorros or Guamanians have been consuming betelnut or pugua for thousands of years as evidenced by archeology. The activity is a cultural link to the past lifestyles of early chamorros.
Betelnut with lime and Cutter.

Islanders prefer the hard reddish nut variety called “ugam” for its fine granular texture.pagua When the red pugua nut is not in season, the coarse white variety “changnga” is eaten as an appropriate alternative. The nut is sliced using a specialized cutter {shown in the photo} called “tiheras pugua”. Citizens of Micronesia (Islanders from the ‘Freely associated Island Nations’ which occupy an area larger than the U.S.) also partake in this custom but many prefer a different soft betelnut species which is succulent or gelataneous.

For the seasoned chewer, ‘amaska’ i.e. the chewing tobacco brand “Mickey Twist” is mixed with the nut and leaf. For the brave at heart, ‘afuk’ or lime powder is also incorporated into the chewing experience. Lime is an alkaline white powder residue which results from cooking coral over an intense bonfire for several days.

Tradition
Leaf-wrapped Betel Nuts, appearing as commonly prepared and sold in Taiwan
Leaf-wrapped Betel Nuts, appearing as commonly prepared and sold in Taiwan

Betel chewing is a tradition which dates back thousands of years. The bitter poultice is an acquired taste, and, although it is not clear why the people of the Pacific originally began to chew betelnut, the habit has been passed down through the generations and now provides a cultural link to their past.

The betel and betel juice play an important role in many countries including Myanmar (where it is called kunya), the Solomon Islands and Vietnam. The betel leaves and areca juices are used ceremonially in Vietnamese weddings. Betel leaves and areca juices start the talk between the groom’s parents and the bride’s parents about the young couple’s marriage. The betel and areca are such important symbols of love and marriage that in Vietnamese the phrase “matters of betel and areca” (chuy?n tr?u cau) is synonymous with marriage. There is a folk tale explaining the origin of this Vietnamese tradition.

In northeast India Betel leaves (pan) with a bit of lime and raw betel nut (called Tamul in Assamese, Sopari in Gujarati, and Kwai in Khasi) are consumed by a majority of the people. In Assam it is a tradition to offer Pan-tamul (Betel leaves and raw betel nut) to guests after tea or meals in a brass plate with stands called a Bota. In Assam betel nuts also have a variety of uses during religious and marriage ceremonies, where it takes on fertility symbolisms. It is also a tradition, especially in Upper Assam, to invite guests to wedding receptions by offering a few betel nuts with leaves. During Bihu, the husori players are offered betel nuts and leaves by each household and their blessings are solicited

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