May 28, 2015

Sibu Tales: Water Chestnuts

Water chestnuts are not nuts, they are little little pears or fruits. In fact we Foochows call them Mui Li. 荸荠

During the measles season in the 70's and subsequent years (meaning when children get measles) water chestnuts seem to be also available in the market!! Ta Kiong was always the first supermarket to sell chestnuts in the 1970's. I remember my Ngie Mah or maternal grandmother paring the water chestnuts for us.

She would pare the water chestnuts and chop up the flesh, After that she would squeeze the chestnuts to get the juice. That was how we did it before the blender arrived in Sibu. A glass or cup of chestnut juice was taken every day while we were having measles or chicken pox. Water chestnut juice can relieve the irritation of rashes from measles, chicken pox and other skin diseases.

Besides water chestnut is good for relieving of hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, acute coughing, headaches, hangovers,etc according to my late grandmother.

Years later, my sisters and my mum did the same thing for Grandma (when she felt very heaty or when the water chestnut was in season) and for my children when they had measles. These are good memories of those years. When my family moved to Kuching, they came across fresh water chestnuts sold in packets, in the cold storage. Some how today, chestnuts are no longer sold this way. Wonder why.

Gleaning from Google  "water chestnuts have a reputation in traditional Asian and aboriginal medicine. They've been ground into powder, juiced, sliced, boiled and eaten raw, steamed or steeped in rice wine and used as a curative and food supplement."

But drinking water chestnut juice according to my grandmother and other relatives is good because it can alleviate nausea, relieve suffering from jaundice, and detoxify the body from impurities.

I took this photo in Fuzhou City not too long ago. And memories of my childhood came flooding back to me.

So in Summer in Fuzhou and other Fujian counties, you see people paring (peeling) water chestnuts in the streets.

People would buy these chestnuts to eat raw, or use in their cooking at home, or have them juiced.

Water chestnuts are good for rehydrating our bodies if we feel over heated. It is good to help moisturize our skin.It is good for people who work under the sun a lot. Hence athletes should also drink water chestnut juice.

So indeed, in summer, pick up a few water chestnuts from the local vendor and start chewing!!

Always be thankful for your Grandmother's wise words.

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