October 3, 2017

Sarawakian Local Delights : Eating Betel Nut and Sireh

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smearing some lime on a sirih leaf


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slicing a betel nut with an old fashion clipper

The Betel or areca nut is an essential part of the lives of many indigenous communities of Sarawak. Also known as pinang, the palm is often seen in most villages in Sarawak. There are also a few varieties of the palm but the nuts are very valuable and are sold in most markets

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A beautiful nut cut into smaller pieces. 
It is a common practice in many homes in Sarawak to share betel nuts as part of a welcome ceremony. In some cases betel nuts are even used as a dowry. Some weddings are preceeded by a betel nut sessions!! The sirih leaf is smeared with some lime paste and a portion of the nut is rolled up tightly to form a quid. This will then be put into the mouth for slow chewing.

Betel quid chewing is considered an easy habit, after dinner, just like drinking of tea or coffee among many indigenous people.

The betel nut is sliced with a sharp clipper, which is an important implement. In fact the clipper does not leave the sirih box where it is kept throughout the years in many homes.  In some homes the sirih box is made from precious metals like brass, silver and even gold. Many museums have showpieces of famous sirih boxes owned by rich sultans of yesteryears.

Today it is known that more than 600 million people worldwide chew betel quids,mainly in Asia.


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