Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Buai anyone?

During the ceremony betel nut is also distributed and shared.

Betel nut, also known as buai, comes from a palm that grows in the coastal areas of many tropical countries, including PNG. It is traditionally prized and is of enormous importance in PNG culture. It is chewed at ceremonies and gatherings and when and wherever possible by those who indulge. In the West you are offered a cup of tea or coffee - in PNG you sit around with your friends and chew buai.

The nut is shredded of its fibrous outer layer, cracked between the teeth and the nut inside chewed with daka (mustard seed stick), dipped in kambang (powder made from crushed coral lime). It results in a mouthful of vivid red spittle which is then usually spat out onto the ground.

It apparently is able to quench one’s thirst, keep hunger pains at bay, cure stomach upsets and take away bad breath. It is also thought to be an aphrodisiac by some. It is a mild narcotic and becomes addictive. The lime is very caustic and can cause cancer.


Tom said...

One thing I've noticed about the locals is their bone structure, they all have really nice cheek bones.
This nut is also chewed over here by pakistanis, it must be imported here then.

CaBaCuRl said...

Jules, what a fascinating place you live in. As i sit here, tapping away, it's incredible to find out there is such a rich, varied culture, on our doorstep. Makes me feel a little ignorant of the world,and rather Euro-centric too. Your blog really is opening my eyes to the world ( and it's a world quite close).

CaBaCuRl said...

Ooops, meant to ask if you or your husband have partaken of buai?

Neva said...

I agree with cabacuarl....from my chair I get to visit exotic places I haven't even dreamed about!

ASHE said...

I wanted to drop in and introduce myself - I found your blog on the daily photo homepage, and have really enjoyed your photos and commentary! I taught a geography class that included this part of the world. I believe the betel nut was mentioned once or twice :)

Jules said...

Hi cabacurl - no we haven't - it is really quite an "aquired taste" and it makes such a mess of your mouth! Someone asked me once to have some and i think I said "over my dead body!!"

Jules said...

Hi Ash - Welcome to the world of bloggers. So glad to meet you!!!!
I will pop over to your blog and have a look.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jules,
If you ever wan to try buai, presuming you haven't already, try it without the lime and the pepper vine and make sure you get young ones. They are less astringent than the lapun ones.
I always felt that the Tolais were much more discreet and cultured with where they spat the red liquid than the Papua side . When I first walked through Boroko I was shocked at the willy nilly nature of the red stains everywhere. Talk about tribal!
Cheers Pia

Anonymous said...

Me again.
G says if you want to try with lime and pe[[er vine watch out to place the lime very carefully ON THE BUAI MASS as IT WILL STRIP THE FLESH FROM YOUR CHEEKS. He speaks from the experience of a neat burn on his gum. Silly boy He doesn't want you to suffer the same fate.
Did Wilma manage to workout who you were and pass on my contact details? I rang today and left them with her. I hope I didn't confuse the issue.

quintarantino said...

Betel nuts... it seems they can make a lot for everyone...
Jules, that second photo is amazing and I think you are doing a wonderful job by blogging to the world about cultural and geographic aspects and Papua New Guinea. It's just like almost watching Travel Channel.

Fabrizio Zanelli said...

Overall I like the photo because it gives an idea on life there, then you captions are always really clear and interesting to read.

dr. filomena said...

Thanks so much for sharing. I'll second cabacurl's comment!
Such an gorgeous and exotic (to me) place you live in.
Makes me wonder if my native Slovenia could seem as exotic to somebody on the other side of the world :)

Anonymous said...

I would hesitate to use it for the last reason that is may cause cancer. I wonder if that is an affliction of the natives there -- cancer?

Amazing photography and interesting posts.

Anonymous said...

These last few posts are fascinating Jules. The next best thing to witnessing it all oneself :-)

Planet Earth Daily Photo

M.Benaut said...

I think you must be becoming younger each day in this paradise.
And,,, no, I saw no palm trees on Kangaroo Island. They are ALL on your island.

david mcmahon said...

G'day Jules,

Sounds like the all-purpose homegrown remedy for everything. That second photo is spectacular.

Keep smiling


Jules said...

Hi All - So glad you have found this interesting!!!

Pia - Wilma gave me your details but she got the email address stuffed up and I have tried 10 different alternatives to the one she gave me but to no avail. I will ring you from brisbane on the weekend if that is ok.

Jules said...

Pia - by the way - tell G - thanks for the tips but it is still "over my dead body!! I'll watch the movie!!!
The market is now buai free after people were fined on the spot. So it is much more pleasant - I used to call it the chainsaw massacre after rain - bright red puddles everywhere. i thought it wouldn't last but it seems to have and buai around the place is really less than it used to be. they do spit in plastic bags though so there are often plastic bags around the place which do tend to make my stomach roll!!! Especially when they throw them out of a vehicle and your car runs over it making it explode!!!!

• Eliane • said...

Have you tried it? What does it taste like?

Love the second pic! Amazing colors!!