Beetlejuice, Betelgeuse, Betel Juice!

The betel nut, aka the areca nut and its many uses is the topic for today’s lecture. Other common names for the seed of the feathery areca palm tree are paan, pinlang and supari. Mouth-sized red fibrous wads lying on the sidewalk in your path reveal evidence that the betel nut has recently been consumed in your proximity.

Some of these specimens are dry, indicating the user had retained the contents in his/her mouth long enough to glean as many of the central nervous system stimulating effects as possible (hover mouse for figure 1). Other specimens indicating a fresh pull manifest themselves in the red deck stain-colored juice expelled while chewing the seed contents (hover mouse for figure 2). The third is the fibrous wad along with the red juice together in a colorful and textured display, showing the process at mid-stage (hover mouse for figure 3).

Just some lighthearted cultural trivia. It is indeed true that it’s difficult to walk along a sidewalk without encountering red spit and expelled betel nut. It’s also difficult to look at any group of native men and women without gaping gobs smiling from the euphoric effects, which are reportedly much like tobacco. It kind of reminds me of a rodeo, except the color is different, and here there is no attempt to conceal it. Next time I venture out, I’ll try to capture a gob in action, though it’s awkward asking for photos of people with their mouths full.


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