During a recent visit to a Jambi village I was welcomed with high honors, and this required me to receive a betel nut during the welcoming ceremony (Sekapur Sirih). I was told prior to the visit that I would have to chew a nut when I arrived but I didn’t know what it was for or what the nut was. So, hey… I like food and I like nuts, so what could be the problem?
Little did I know that there is a mixture that goes along with the nut, wrapped up in a betel leaf (sirih). Those ingredients are lime, mustard, and maybe just a little tobacco to boot! After my first experience with betel nut, I think I am accurate in saying that it has an “acquired taste.”
Wikipedia says that betel nut is a “mildly euphoric psychoactive stimulant (whatever that means). And that it could be compared to drinking a strong cup of coffee.
I’m not a raving coffee drinker, but I have consumed a few cups in my day… and I would never compare chewing a betel nut to drinking a cup of coffee! That nut made my entire mouth and lips go numb.
OH… and did I mention, betel nut has a way of turning your mouth red? It does a number on the teeth too! Some may enjoy this nut, in place of cigarettes, coffee, etc. For some strange reason, I don’t think I’ll ever good addicted to betel nut : )
For those wanting to explore how betel nut is prepared for chewing, read on: Preparing the Betel Nut for chewing…