Bambusa Arundinacea

Willd.
Bamboo (E); Bambu (S); Chogro (Ch); Nala (Cu). In Latin America, bamboos are used mostly for construction, not for the culinary role that they play in the Orient. Various bamboos are cultivated, but mostly for ornamental and construction. Most bamboo species produce shoots, or "spears", which are edible. Bitterness is removed by changing the water several times during cooking. Toughness can be ameliorated by cutting the shoots into thin slices. Shoots about 15 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter are at a good stage for cooking, but Panamanian Chinese prefer them before they have emerged from the soil (!). Leaf sheaths should be peeled away, as should be parts of the shoot that were in contact with the ground, especially if they have turned gray. The thin core should be cut into small disks, at least eight to the inch, and boiled for at least 20 minutes, changing the water. They are ready for eating then, but can be much improved by frying in coconut oil or butter. In times of scarcity, bamboo grain has saved the lives of thousands of Asian Indians, and the grains have sold at higher prices than rice. when other grains are plentiful, those of bamboo are rarely eaten. It is said to be a somewhat unsafe food, being apt to produce diarrhea and dysentery. Crops of grain in some species are produced only at intervals of about 30 years. Seeds of Bambusa arundinaceae usually appear when drought occurs, at least in India. Fluids in bamboos are often accumulated in the joints, especially in the hollow kinds. Water in these culms is potable. Young, vigorously growing stalks may have a considerable amount of liquid in each hollow internode, which can be located by shaking the stalk and listening for splashing. Some of the Darien species have water with much the flavor of a pipa (!). Old, dry, and cracked stems also tend to accumulate potable rainwater. In India, pieces of hollow bamboo 3 to 6 feet long, with the partition perforated so as to form long pails, are carried by hill watermen, suspended over the back by a bamboo string that passes over the forehead. The water stays cool for a number of days. One entire section about a foot long is cut out, and a small hhole is bored in one of the joint partitions with the machete point to make an effective canteen. then sand and water are put in the hole and shaken around to clean out the interior. A plug is fashioned from some softwood tree. the flange on the bamboo stem forms a handle to which a line is tied to fashion a strap (!). Rice and water are placed inside and covered. The primitive waterproof pot is placed on the fire until the rice is done. A simple ladle is made by cutrting one end of a joint down to a handle leaving a few inches of the bottom as a ladle. With the ladle the rice is served, and the meat course may be cut up with bamboo knoves. Milk pails and churns are also made of bamboo in India. without too much imagination, one can fashion anything from a barbecue grill to a smoking pipe from bamboo. Bamboos are not only used for fishing poles; the fishermen of Bengal have one of tghe most curious fish-hooks in the world. It consists of a short sliver of well-seasoned bamboo cane, 3x1/8 inch. the string is attacdhed near the middle of the sliver, which is then bent into a U-shape. A green grasshopper's head is plucked off and the two ends of the U are insesrted in the open end of the body. The upper end of the string is attached to a piece of bamboo about a foot long, which is left floating in the water. When the fish cuts the bait, the bamboo sliver is extended in its mouth, the ends being caught in its gills. Large fish are often caught this way, the pain more or less inactivating the fish. boats are sometimes caulked with shavings of bamboo mixed with lime and tung oil. The common and characteristic harpoon of Bengal consists of a piece of Dendrocalamus strictus about 6 feet long, split apically into eight or ten long pieces, about as thick as the little finger. These are smooth and rounded up to within a foot of the top, where the bamboo is firmlybound to keep it from further splitting and metal points are inserted. The fisherman rattles this against the side of the boat to alarm the fish from their hiding places in the weeds. The harpoon is then hurled, the prongs opening out on hitting the water and greatly enhancing the fisherman's chance by expanding the area of coverage with the metal points. Pointed bamboo stakes have been used to spear lobsters. Fish traps are also made of bamboo slivers. Split bamboo, heated in a fire to harden the wood, will take an edge. Some people shave with bamboo knives. Bamboo knives are superior to pocket knives for removing leeches, since they scrape rather than cut them off. Nagas and other hill tribes in India use the hardened outer portions of spiny bamboos as knives and spears. Jungles and forests about villages are often covered for miles with these formidable weapons. Short, sharp bamboo knives called pangis are vburied along the footpath so as to go right through the foot of the unwary traveler approaching the village. The foot is by accident placed between these, and being cut by the one in front, is rapidly withdrawn, only to have the other two violently driven in from behind. Sometimes thousands of these surround a village. Pits are also dug and lined with spears so that the unwary animal or traveler falls to a certain death. Cuna Indians are reported to line animal snares with bamboo slivers (!). Emergency footwear has been devised from beaten and flattened bamboo stalks. The "Malayan Gate" consists of a cut sapling about 3 inches in diameter sprung horizontally between two trees with one end projecting a few feet. The end is armed with bamboo spears and triggered so that someone tripping on a string will release the sapling and be impaled with bamboo. On festive occasions, Malays put green bamboo in specially prepared fired. The air enclosed in the joint gets heated and the joints burst with a heavy report, like a small pistol. To remove worms from ulcers, some people place a poultice, made by pounding the leaves of Bambusa arundinacea on the ulcer, after first pouring the juice on the vermin. In the interior of the hollow stems of some bamboos, e.g., Bambusa arundinacea, is found a siliceous and crystalline substance known in India as tabashir. Tabashir is considered aphrodisiac, demulcent, emmenagogic, expectorant, febrifugal, and pectoral. It is used to combat flatulence and jaundice. leafe sheaths have been used as splints, and bamboo joints have served as peg legs, the stumps of the leg being merely inserted at the open end of the culm. Toothbrushes are fashioned by chewing at the ends of a sliver until they are soft and the fibers separated. Bamboo has been fashioned into needles by some people who used threads stripped from fibrous bark or coconut leaves.

EthnoBotanical Dictionary. 2013.

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