Food finds: jaggery

jaggeryAn incentive in going on field visits is you could look forward to returning home with loads of native stuff from locals, you know, tokens of appreciation for “coming all the way to see us” despite one’s protestations of “no, really, it’s my job to come see you. It’s not as if I’m a tourist sight seeing (although development workers are such)”.  Food stuff, especially.  Like this jaggery (panutsang bao, inakob) out of sugar cane from Mountain Province. Patiently and painstakingly – translation: lovingly – made. There, locals still make use of cattle to stir the heavy molasses into beautiful smoothness. In some villages, nuts are stirred in.

The block of molasses has not the fashionable look of commercial food but from manually harvesting the cane until it’s done imagine the labor put into it’s production not to mention traditional knowledge contained inside that block. So it’d be the epitome of impolite not to receive it graciously when they hand you such. You just say thank you. Not how much? although with folks growing up in the theory of no free lunches (ha. ha.) this is the equivalent of proper.

On the practical side, I thought locals could do much better on the value chain by producing it into, say, sugar cubes and labeling and packaging the stuff, eye-candy enough to be sold in supermarket chains and organic food shops (it supposedly has health benefits).


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