MORINGA.. or more Gaagh!

Duncan, my good friend and ‘Renaissance-Man’ role model from across the Mediterranean, thru Gibraltar, and thence up the coast to the UK is currently doing a stellar series on food: animal vs plant-sourced? Well worth following :
But meanwhile,, for any number-phobes put off by my last post, here is my little contribution to the nutritional racket.
The tree in question, Moringa oleifera, is touted as the perfect solution to world hunger: Fast growing, drought-tolerant, a heavy producer of edibles (I’ve seen ‘world record-holder’), and also an oft-mentioned litany of nutritional values: (“More nickel than a meteorite, more Cadmium than a car battery, more Vitamin ‘C’ than Linus ever saw in his life.. etc”

moringas 005
I bought two saplings 6 years ago, and a year later planted their seeds, (I remember the first one that sprouted as a ‘miracle!’, but it turns out you’d have to be a satanic reverse-Midas-touch monster to have them refuse to sprout.)
Soo.. I now have at least 200 Moringa trees of all ages.
Ok, but what I lacked was any real experience actually eating Moringa.
This month, the Sri Lankan ‘guest-workers’ here finally discovered my gold mine. Happy at first to talk to anyone with a history of consumption, I gave them a couple hand-fulls of the seed pods.
Two nice free visits later, they got serious and loaded three heavy suitcases with pods. Ok, with me verging on starvation, I asked whether they could be sold? “Sold?” The question didn’t seem to register, nether Hebrew nor English being a common tongue. I pulled out the only pathetic shekel-note in my wallet this week, a 20, and gestured: “I give you pods… you give me… these.”
Hmm, Perhaps they understood, who knows?
Anyway, thence directly to Google, where I learned to ‘cut into short pieces, like green beans, boil, and add .. um.. truckloads of spices. Supposed to taste like asparagus. Which I hate and refuse to eat, but no mind.
So the reason I’m writing this today on a quiet Sabbath afternoon is that I am, as we speak, waiting for my virgin eating-experiment. Just took them off the stove to cool.
Be right back, as they say.

Ok, ‘stringy’ and ‘woody’ are both ridiculous understatements. No one warned me to have a ‘spittoon’ handy for the inedible 90 per cent of the entre/mess.
I was tempted to boil them for an additional month or so, but decided against it, partly because the taste is about as appealing as that mouth-full of crab-grass you bite into after being knocked off your horse.
Never say die, I say. I’ll ask the guinea -pig Bangla-Desh-is to bring me a sample edible meal, in fair-exchange for another ten pounds of now-worthless (to me) cellulose. Possibly cows, with four times the count of stomachs as ‘moi’, can digest Moringa.
Do check Duncan’s food-series, if you’re looking for actually edible choices.
For now, Mac D’s calls to me, if only because no spittoon is required.
ADD: the leaves, fresh or dried can be used kinda as a ‘thickener in soup. Maybe that’s what I’ll sell, in the end. I’m such a Socrates/ Pascal’s wager/ Hippocrates kind of guy: I refuse to sell anything I haven’t proven to myself to be tasty.
That’s it from ‘Johnny’s Kitchen News’/ JS


9 thoughts on “MORINGA.. or more Gaagh!

  1. eleanorio

    I never heard of this plant, but I agree with you: anything that tastes like asparagus is not particularly edible in my books. This makes me a bit of a pariah among my friends, but they should rejoice; there’s more for them! Good luck finding a use for your bounty.

    1. solberg73 Post author

      Thanks, El. The experiment is as close as it gets To the old joke: Two ladies in the Catskills; one says “Such terrible food! and the other adds “Yes, and such small portions!”
      Seriously, I ended up with maybe 4 % by weight of swallowable mush. I think I’ll go back to trying the leaves. They are at least kinda tasteless… a sad ‘advantage’.

    1. solberg73 Post author

      It’s native to Southern Asia, and has a truly mild-mannered habit. And apparently every shack in Sri Lanka has ’em in the back yard… which might explain why my ‘moochers’ thought nothing of helping themselves to my supply.
      We have a number of invasives here, mainly Lantana and wild asparagus, both of which are noxious, tree-killing monsters. Also field weeds no one ever saw until ten years ago.
      Then there are the parrots: An accidental pet-release 15 years ago and I now have a ‘herd’/ ‘swarm’ of ’em, all green and talkative. Lost most of my sunflower crop in one week. Oh well, the real ‘invasives’ walk on two legs wearing bulky vests with wires dangling.

  2. somewittyhandle

    The Scottish instinct would be: if you can’t eat it, try fermenting it and distilling it into liquor. Throughout the world, this practice useually results in the “water of life”: in France, ‘eau-de-vie’, in Gaelic lands, ‘uisge beath’ [pronounced ‘whisky’, in Scandinavia, ‘aquavit’, Italy ‘aqua vitae’… and so on.
    I’m thinking maim-chaim has a ring to it.

  3. solberg73 Post author

    Not a day goes by that I don’t rely on you for real, actionable solutions. ‘Mei-Haim’ is already trademarked, but my younger son may well be able to suggest a ‘no-previous-art’ replacement. I’m thinking of blurbing: ‘More Calcium than the White Cliffs, more Magnesium than Dead Sea brine… (more U-235 than Chernobyl?)
    Who knows? For myself, as a possible (though high-functioning alcoholic, I buy no spirits without doing the math: % alch by volume X Volume/ divided by price per unit. Taste?? Who has time to even notice..

    1. solberg73 Post author

      Yes, dear, (and thanks for the comment) the trees are at least a welcome ‘green’ here. In a landscape I forget what Mr. Twain called it after his depressing visit in the 1800s. ‘Vast Wasteland’? No, that was ‘TV’ already in the 60s, some other author.
      Anyway our previous historical ‘un-authorized tenants’ had somewhat less feel for what paradise should look like. Sick that I can’t remember in English what they call a guy living, say, in an apartment for which he’s not signed a contract. ‘Pol’shim’ in Hebrew. My sons, who made the language-transition at 2 and 8 yrs have no problem being bi-lingual; perhaps my excuse is more Alzheimer’s than anything else.
      Anyway, I’m obviously ‘nuts’ on growing ’em; lack only a good nutritional and financial reason for ‘why?’ Eating the leaves is my next test. ‘More selenium than a smoke-alarm battery!’ Yeah, I’ll probably scrawl that on my ‘Leaves 4 Sale’ sign out on the main road.

  4. punkysleek

    Maybe squatters has (have?) another universal meaning. See? I’m only mono-lingual and can’t conjugate confidently (or be sure of whether a comma belongs there).


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