Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sugar Cane Is Hard To Eat.

In my never-ending attempt to try everything I can, I decided to try my hand at eating sugar cane, which is as present as banana palms, but I just hadn’t noticed. From the towns to the most remote areas, everyone gnaws on sugar cane. My only past experience with it was at Café Atlantico, where it was a garnish in my mojito (and even then, I honestly had no idea what to do with it).

One of my co-workers was a sugar-cane eating fiend. I had seen her eat it many times on the back stoop of our office during work. It seemed soft and effortless in her experienced hands. I figured, It can’t be that difficult.

My opportunity came one day when I had gone monitoring. I bought a whole sugar cane (about 4 feet long) in a tiny rural village, and the children from whom I bought it broke it into foot-long pieces.

For those of you who haven’t seen a sugar cane before, it looks like fat bamboo. And it’s as hard as bamboo, as I soon found out.

To eat sugar cane, you have to first break it into manageable pieces. Happily, this was done for me. Then you are supposed to remove the hard exterior, slice the pulpy interior into bite-sized chunks, chew them, and spit out the pulp. This all sounds very easy.

Well. Imagine trying to hack off a branch of a tree using a blunt knife: chips fly, but you still make zero headway. That’s what it’s like. When you have finally spent 20 minutes on the sugar cane, the woody exterior finally removed, you then have to cut the interior. The hacking is not through—you still have to cut it crosswise. This time, it’s not just chips flying: it’s sugar juice.

When the cubes are cut, you can finally chew on them, which is, admittedly, delicious. It’s sugary, of course, but not as strong as candy. After chewing on it, the sugary pulp becomes hard like wood, and you spit it out before proceeding to the next piece. It’s very funny to watch the spitting process—some are very delicate about it, depositing the pulp in a trashcan nearby; others throw it on the ground. Some, like one toddler who was absently enjoying his snack, accidentally spit on your foot.

The process of eating sugar cane is kind of like eating crab—a lot of work for a little food. I tried eating it last night. To my great displeasure, I nearly chopped off my finger, got sugar juice all over my tablecloth, and broke the plate I was using into bits after a long struggle with my dull (Chinese) knife. I’m still picking bits of sugar cane from my hair and clothing. For once, I was actually happy to be alone in my apartment, because no one was there to witness the ridiculous spectacle.

11 Comments:

Blogger satay said...

aww, i LOVE sugarcane!! we drink sugar cane juice all the time in Singapore, perfect for hot weather!! Though i have to say, vendors usually cut the sugarcane into thin slices for easy chewing. Not as complicated as what you're up to, dear.

3/20/2006 4:50 PM  
Blogger Morgan C. said...

You mean you didn't get bits of wood in your hair? :)

I love sugarcane, too---if only it were as easy to eat as it is in Singapore!

3/22/2006 9:19 AM  
Anonymous MappyB said...

That's great. I've had stems/stalks of it in my drinks at bars, and I did chew on it, and it was so tough, surprisingly, so I can imagine your frustration in trying to actually deal with the whole thing!

3/22/2006 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in Taiwan they shuck the husk off it for you before you buy it and chop it into foot long pieces. You can even buy it like that sealed in plastic at the supermarket. Quite nice. Just watch the segments, they are the tough part. I cut them out first, then take my cane and a bowl and chew on it get the juices out as I watch TV. Lovely snack and a good source of vitamin and minerals. Processed sugar has no nutrients and even depletes your body of nutrients. Raw cane is the opposite.

3/25/2007 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as i'm sitting here researching how to eat sugarcane, I am eating it right now. I find that if you cut it so there is 1 "joint" in the middle you can eat from both sides. I just peel off the husk with my teeth, just tap it w/front teeth to loosen it then w/teeth or fingers pull it back it peels right off.

As for cutting it into bite size, well, I'm at home so I just suck and gently naw at it, occasionally peeling back any "used" to get to the middle. I find i don't get pulp stuck in my teeth this way. Good luck!

10/18/2007 8:59 PM  
Anonymous Amit said...

Ya Sugarcane is very very juicy, It gives a nice exercise to the teeth & jaws.

2/23/2008 4:36 AM  
Anonymous Amit said...

I belong to a region where u can see fields full of sugarcane n thats India, We have our own agricultural land, Sugarcane is the main crop,

2/23/2008 4:38 AM  
Anonymous amit said...

As everyone feels. sugarcane is very hard to peel off. But a simple thing can solve ur problem.

Chop it vertically with a knife , its very easy
& u can then njoy it.

2/23/2008 4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm a cane freak, it's sold on almost any corner here in Jamaica, however I've got a special 'Cane Man' that I get my cane from. Using a very sharp/skilled cutlass (machete) he peels off the hard skin, chops off the bumps (joints) then slices each section into 3-4 smaller mouth sized slices all into a plastic bag without ever touching the cane itself with his hands. So all you have to do is eat it out of the bag, almost like pop corn. Shoot, all this cane talk has my mouth watering for a nice big bag now ... take care

4/15/2009 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whats the name of the procesess of eating or drinking sugercane?asap.

4/21/2011 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Ayurvedic Medicines Online said...

Juice is good for health so we should always drink it. If we talk about sugar cane so it is true, it is hard to eat but the juice of this is so testy and healthy.
Thank You,

7/25/2016 2:40 AM  

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