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Traps as treats: a traditional sticky rice snack persisting in rapidly changing Asian kitchens.

Schwallier R, de Boer HJ, Visser N, van Vugt RR, Gravendeel B - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2015)

Bottom Line: Minimization of this effect in current transitional cultures could be met by placing value on the maintenance of heritage-rich food.Harvest of pitchers does not appear to decrease the number of plants in local populations.Social media proved a valuable tool in our research for locating research areas and in interviewing respondents, and we endorse its further use in ethnobotanical investigations.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Darwinweg 2, 2333, CR, Leiden, The Netherlands. rachel.schwallier@naturalis.nl.

ABSTRACT

Background: An accessory to modern developing economies includes a shift from traditional, laborious lifestyles and cuisine to more sedentary careers, recreation and convenience-based foodstuffs. Similar changes in the developed western world have led to harmful health consequences. Minimization of this effect in current transitional cultures could be met by placing value on the maintenance of heritage-rich food. Vitally important to this is the preservation and dissemination of knowledge of these traditional foods. Here, we investigate the history and functionality of a traditional rice snack cooked in Nepenthes pitchers, one of the most iconic and recognizable plants in the rapidly growing economic environment of Southeast Asia.

Methods: Social media was combined with traditional ethnobotanical surveys to conduct investigations throughout Malaysian Borneo. Interviews were conducted with 25 market customers, vendors and participants from various ethnical groups with an in-depth knowledge of glutinous rice cooked in pitcher plants. The acidity of pitcher fluid was measured during experimental cooking to analyze possible chemical avenues that might contribute to rice stickiness.

Results: Participants identifying the snack were almost all (96%) from indigenous Bidayuh or Kadazandusun tribal decent. They prepare glutinous rice inside pitcher traps for tradition, vessel functionality and because they thought it added fragrance and taste to the rice. The pH and chemical activity of traps analyzed suggest there is no corresponding effect on rice consistency. Harvest of pitchers does not appear to decrease the number of plants in local populations.

Conclusions: The tradition of cooking glutinous rice snacks in pitcher plants, or peruik kera in Malay, likely carries from a time when cooking vessels were more limited, and persists only faintly in tribal culture today because of value placed on maintaining cultural heritage. Social media proved a valuable tool in our research for locating research areas and in interviewing respondents, and we endorse its further use in ethnobotanical investigations. Our gathered data urges for the preservation of sustainable, tribal plant use for the prosperity of both health and culture.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Glutinous rice snack localities and predicted distribution of pitcher plant species used in its preparation. Modeled distribution of the two most widely prepared species of pitcher plants, Nepenthes ampullaria and Nepenthes mirabilis, based on verified herbarium specimen localities. Beige shading indicates co-occurrence of species. Yellow triangles indicate visited marketplaces. Circles denote areas where the consumption or sale of the glutinous rice snack was identified through social media.
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Fig1: Glutinous rice snack localities and predicted distribution of pitcher plant species used in its preparation. Modeled distribution of the two most widely prepared species of pitcher plants, Nepenthes ampullaria and Nepenthes mirabilis, based on verified herbarium specimen localities. Beige shading indicates co-occurrence of species. Yellow triangles indicate visited marketplaces. Circles denote areas where the consumption or sale of the glutinous rice snack was identified through social media.

Mentions: In October and November 2014, we worked throughout the two states of Malaysian Borneo, Sabah and Sarawak, with three different questionnaires made for those that had eaten the snack, those that were vendors selling the snack on a market and those who offered more advanced knowledge of the preparation and tradition. We started our research at nine outdoor markets (Figure 1), where we surveyed market customers and vendors by first asking if they recognized a laminated photograph of the sticky rice dish cooked in Nepenthes, and then utilized snowball sampling [18] to identify additional areas, markets or informants. On the markets where no pitcher plant snacks were sold, we presented the photograph of the snack to a target of half of the vendors and customers (total n = 299) with the aim of encompassing diversity in tribe, gender and age. Upon recognition, informants were asked to answer our short ‘Market’ questionnaire designed for customers and vendors who were not selling the snack themselves (n = 11). This included questions about the frequency of their consumption of the snack, the reason they thought rice was cooked inside a Nepenthes pitcher, information about the ingredients used to make the dish and the species of Nepenthes used in cooking. To identify the species of Nepenthes used to make the snack, we showed a laminated photo series of the five regionally growing species to all informants, which offered a portable and convenient ex situ method of plant identification [18] with high rates of consistent plant recognition [19]. All vendors found selling the sticky rice snack were asked to complete a ‘Vendor’ focused questionnaire, which additionally asked about the harvesting of the pitchers and market sales.Figure 1


Traps as treats: a traditional sticky rice snack persisting in rapidly changing Asian kitchens.

Schwallier R, de Boer HJ, Visser N, van Vugt RR, Gravendeel B - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2015)

Glutinous rice snack localities and predicted distribution of pitcher plant species used in its preparation. Modeled distribution of the two most widely prepared species of pitcher plants, Nepenthes ampullaria and Nepenthes mirabilis, based on verified herbarium specimen localities. Beige shading indicates co-occurrence of species. Yellow triangles indicate visited marketplaces. Circles denote areas where the consumption or sale of the glutinous rice snack was identified through social media.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4374397&req=5

Fig1: Glutinous rice snack localities and predicted distribution of pitcher plant species used in its preparation. Modeled distribution of the two most widely prepared species of pitcher plants, Nepenthes ampullaria and Nepenthes mirabilis, based on verified herbarium specimen localities. Beige shading indicates co-occurrence of species. Yellow triangles indicate visited marketplaces. Circles denote areas where the consumption or sale of the glutinous rice snack was identified through social media.
Mentions: In October and November 2014, we worked throughout the two states of Malaysian Borneo, Sabah and Sarawak, with three different questionnaires made for those that had eaten the snack, those that were vendors selling the snack on a market and those who offered more advanced knowledge of the preparation and tradition. We started our research at nine outdoor markets (Figure 1), where we surveyed market customers and vendors by first asking if they recognized a laminated photograph of the sticky rice dish cooked in Nepenthes, and then utilized snowball sampling [18] to identify additional areas, markets or informants. On the markets where no pitcher plant snacks were sold, we presented the photograph of the snack to a target of half of the vendors and customers (total n = 299) with the aim of encompassing diversity in tribe, gender and age. Upon recognition, informants were asked to answer our short ‘Market’ questionnaire designed for customers and vendors who were not selling the snack themselves (n = 11). This included questions about the frequency of their consumption of the snack, the reason they thought rice was cooked inside a Nepenthes pitcher, information about the ingredients used to make the dish and the species of Nepenthes used in cooking. To identify the species of Nepenthes used to make the snack, we showed a laminated photo series of the five regionally growing species to all informants, which offered a portable and convenient ex situ method of plant identification [18] with high rates of consistent plant recognition [19]. All vendors found selling the sticky rice snack were asked to complete a ‘Vendor’ focused questionnaire, which additionally asked about the harvesting of the pitchers and market sales.Figure 1

Bottom Line: Minimization of this effect in current transitional cultures could be met by placing value on the maintenance of heritage-rich food.Harvest of pitchers does not appear to decrease the number of plants in local populations.Social media proved a valuable tool in our research for locating research areas and in interviewing respondents, and we endorse its further use in ethnobotanical investigations.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Darwinweg 2, 2333, CR, Leiden, The Netherlands. rachel.schwallier@naturalis.nl.

ABSTRACT

Background: An accessory to modern developing economies includes a shift from traditional, laborious lifestyles and cuisine to more sedentary careers, recreation and convenience-based foodstuffs. Similar changes in the developed western world have led to harmful health consequences. Minimization of this effect in current transitional cultures could be met by placing value on the maintenance of heritage-rich food. Vitally important to this is the preservation and dissemination of knowledge of these traditional foods. Here, we investigate the history and functionality of a traditional rice snack cooked in Nepenthes pitchers, one of the most iconic and recognizable plants in the rapidly growing economic environment of Southeast Asia.

Methods: Social media was combined with traditional ethnobotanical surveys to conduct investigations throughout Malaysian Borneo. Interviews were conducted with 25 market customers, vendors and participants from various ethnical groups with an in-depth knowledge of glutinous rice cooked in pitcher plants. The acidity of pitcher fluid was measured during experimental cooking to analyze possible chemical avenues that might contribute to rice stickiness.

Results: Participants identifying the snack were almost all (96%) from indigenous Bidayuh or Kadazandusun tribal decent. They prepare glutinous rice inside pitcher traps for tradition, vessel functionality and because they thought it added fragrance and taste to the rice. The pH and chemical activity of traps analyzed suggest there is no corresponding effect on rice consistency. Harvest of pitchers does not appear to decrease the number of plants in local populations.

Conclusions: The tradition of cooking glutinous rice snacks in pitcher plants, or peruik kera in Malay, likely carries from a time when cooking vessels were more limited, and persists only faintly in tribal culture today because of value placed on maintaining cultural heritage. Social media proved a valuable tool in our research for locating research areas and in interviewing respondents, and we endorse its further use in ethnobotanical investigations. Our gathered data urges for the preservation of sustainable, tribal plant use for the prosperity of both health and culture.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus