Friday, 25 April 2014

India Part 5 - Spicy talk and down by the waterside

Alan has pointed out that all the tocitement with the nephalents actually took two days, but it felt like one big long day, so it doesn't really matter.  In the middle we went to a spice farm, and for lunch Alan had some special tea.

You all know that coffee smells of jasmine, but how do spices grow? Don't say, "In the ground," 'cos I know that, but it's the higgledy piggledy every which way that matters.

Nutmeg grows on trees, pepper - achoo - grows up trees, as does vanilla, allspice is a tree, cloves are flower buds, cinnamon is tree bark and cardamom pods grow on stalks under the leafy plant. When you go to see them growing it's amazing, 'cos there's no apparent rhyme or reason on why one grows where and another grows there.  But it's all very cunningly done.

Coffee and cardamom need shade, so you grow trees that will provide it. You can grow pepper and vanilla vines up the tall trees and in the spaces you can grow the smaller bushy trees like nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. In even smaller spaces you can grow allspice bushes and piripiri pepper plants, turmeric and ginger too, and even cocoa for chocklit!

Pick and crush an allspice leaf here and sniff the heady scent, bite a clove bud there and you find it has almost no taste until it's dried. Then crush a peppercorn and see your hands go red. Bite into the fresh peppercorn and feel your mouth explode with the perfumed heat, then pick the seeds from a fresh green cardamom and experience the fragrant taste straight from the plant. Around and about are other little plants to keep the bees busy all year.

Here are some pictures of spices and things:

Here's a man up a bamboo ladder picking pepper, and that's pepper before it's ripe. It goes red before you pick it.  The red pepper is dried to make black pepper, but the outer red skin is removed to get at the seed and that makes white pepper.

 Here's nutmeg on its tree.

Inside the fruit there is some soft flesh that you can make chutney from. The red stuff is mace wrapped around the seed shell. Inside that is the nutmeg.

This is a whole hillside of cardamom with pepper vines growing up the tall shade trees.

Here are more cardamoms with a young banana plant growing in front of the bushes and in-between is a very tiny and very hot piripiri pepper

Cardamom flowers grow on shoots from the ground and the are very pretty. If you hold one up it looks like the whole plant.  In between the stem you can see the pods that will be picked.

Cloves grow in bunches on trees and they are picked before the buds open.  These have very little flavour until they are dried. We are used to black cloves, but the best ones are reddish brown.
On trees nearby grow little rose apples.  These are tasty but very very sharp. In any spare ground the farmers also grow roses so that they can extract the oil for perfumes and the flowers get used for garlands too.
Finally these are cocoa pods, and when they grow ripe they pick them and make chocolate. 

Cor, wasn't that amazing and then we went for lunch in an interesting little restaurant. Alan had special tea with his food.  It came in a teapot and he drank it out of a china cup.  Funny though it didn't smell of tea and when peaked into the cup it was very pale for tea, and it was definitely fizzy. "Here," I said, "That's really special tea alright - it's beer."  "Shhhh!" said Alan," we have to call it tea because they haven't got a licence. So it's special, Kingfisher tea."  

Coo flip, we had a smashing time in Periyar, but then we had to go and leave the nephalents behind. Everyone say, "Ahh." We didn't know it but we would see them again, but that's a story for another time.

The next morning we were up nice and early to head off to our next destination.  You've seen the coffee and spices, so here's a glimpse of some tea on the hoof.  Alan laughed when he saw that the tea estate was called the Connemara Tea Estate. I don't know why it was funny, something to do with that being a part of Ireland. Indeed it is, way out in the west and seldom as hot as Kerala!

After we came down from the hills we drove for ages and ages, and when we stopped a nice man in a canoe was waiting for us and he punted us across to where we were staying.  This is our room.

And here we are sitting on the half door enjoying the view across the water.

When all that looking got too much we sat on our comfy chair and watch more of the world going by and listened to the birds

When evening came the nice man with his boat came back and we had a sunset cruise.  First we had a look behind us and then we turned around to see where we were going.

We went out into the lake near the Chinese fishing nets.  No, I don't know why they are Chinese either 'cos there were definitely no Chinese people there.  While we were puzzling with that the sun dipped towards the horizon and his nibs took lots of pictures.

We had lots of lovely meals there and while we ate we sat with the other guests around a huge enormous table with a great big turntable this on it. Ann says it's called a Lazy Susan, but there was no-one called Susan there so I spect she left it behind. Next day when it was late morning we snuck back in and clambered up.
Well we had to sit on it of course and then we got to go whee, round and round on it. 

First Zeke got dizzy.
Then I got dizzy.
hen we BOTH got dizzy.  Tee hee, what fun it was until the humins came and said could they have it back please, because it was time for lunch. 
 After lunch we sat in the sun and caught some rays, and we saw some lovely flowers that smelled wonderful.  They're called frangipani and we think they made us look quite festive and smart.
Next morning we got up early early while all the birds were singing, and we watched a man carry a basket of coconuts on his head from the farm and load them into a canoe. Then another man came and took the coconuts to market.

Here's a video of him. We wanted you to hear the birds and the music wafting over the water from the temple. It takes us all back, 'cept for Ann who was still in her bed!

Anyway bears and peeps, that's all for this time.  Just one more story about messing about in boats and living in a boatyard.


Jock and Zeke

1 comment:

  1. Well that sounds like a very smelly few days all round, and Connemara definitely looks different to the last time I was there!



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