I really love travelling because I like checking out all of the things that are different to my home country.
That extends to trying what the locals get into. Even if it might seem a bit strange to your Western traditions.
Actually, for the vast majority of the time, having a go at trying something weird comes off and I actually like it – and I like bringing it back into my home life!
But sometimes, I don’t. I look at this in a positive way. If something doesn’t quite work out, you get a funny dinner party conversation and get a great story out of it anyway. And this is one of those stories!
This one is about How To Eat Betel Nut in the Solomon Islands. And this one was a big challenge for me because it’s hard to follow through with something you don’t like!
If you don’t know, chewing Betel Nut is a popular recreational activity undertaken by many locals in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and other South Pacific nations.
People chew on it because it releases a mild stimulant that makes you feel more relaxed.
Everyone has their poison, and Betel Nut is just one of them that are in place in the world!
But you have to try it to see what it’s all about!
If you really, really want to find out how to eat Betel Nut, check this silly blog post out – and with pictures!
You’ll probably hate me for it because the taste is pretty foul… I mean, an acquired taste!
How To Eat Betel Nut – Try Not Throwing Up!
You actually don’t just eat the Betel Nut just by itself that you’ve picked off the tree or have bought from the local markets!
There are three ingredients that you need to mix together to create the mild Betel Nut ‘high’ – which I’d describe as being slightly dizzy.
From left to right – the Betel Nut stem, the Betel Nut itself, and ‘lime’.
Don’t worry, this isn’t the chemical you chuck on your garden if it’s acidic to make the soil a neutral pH. ‘Lime’ is the nickname given to seashells that are cooked up and then crushed into a fine powder.
That’s right, you’re eating shells that you pick up off the beach!
When you crack open the Betel Nut, you get this brown looking nut thing in the middle of the photo below that looks like a dried out testicle.
These three ingredients look innocent enough on their own. But nothing prepares you for the taste bud onslaught either when you mix them all together.
What you then do is the following to eat Betel Nut properly:
- Break a part of the stem off
- Dip the stem into the lime
- Stick the stem in your mouth, then
- stick the Betel Nut into your gob, with the stem and chew it all together.
What happens next is that all three ingredients, when mixed with saliva in your mouth, create a chemical reaction that releases the stimulant.
This chemical reaction also creates a red liquid which can stain your teeth if you become a regular Betel Nut chewer!
However, is it worth it?
For me – hell no, I’m sticking to beer as my stimulant!
Here are some photos below of me and my partner in crime, Dan ‘attempting’ to have a crack at chewing Betel Nut. As you can tell, you can see the progression of our rather unsuccessful Betel Nut chewing technique.
Here is my first bite.
Looks like I’m trying to swallow some razor blades!
And here is me and Dan, trying to follow through with chewing on this concoction. You can see by the reaction of my face and Dan below, it was pretty hard to stomach!
Trying to wash away the flavour with beer doesn’t help either!
And look, here is Dan – probably about to expel the contents of his stomach.
I wish I had someone filming me trying to attempt eating the Betel Nut, but at least you’d be spared the gagging and dry reaching that I experienced.
I have a very bad gag reflex so just imagine me hurling without bringing anything up!
And just to show that I actually did have a few chomps on the Betel Nut mixture, here is a photo with my red stained teeth.
Looks like I’ve just taken one for the team!
Anyway Panda, our guide seems to like it way more than me. He seems pretty happy about it to.
Actually he’s laughing at me and Dan choking on our poor attempt to eat Betel Nut!
Hey, you don’t know what it’s like if you don’t try,
I’m actually grateful that I was able to try something the locals do – even if it was pretty unpleasant!