We live in the largest sugarcane growing region of China, so we’re quite familiar with seeing fields of it, or trucks rumbling down the street piled high with it. We’re also quite familiar with eating it!
It’s considered a fruit (水果 shui3guo3) and great snack here, and so, it’s sold at roadside stalls just like any fruit or snack. For example, guy in background is roasting corn on a little grill to sell as a snack. Purple is the most common kind we see, though we’ve also seen golden and green.
You tell the vendor how many sections (节 jie2) you’d like, and they’ll get you all set up. Here’s our vendor peeling our sugarcane with a cleaver. Because China. There’s a pile of sweet potatoes in the background, ready to get roasted. Also a yummy snack!
Then you hold one end so that she can chop it into sections. In this case, we got two sections. One for each of my sweeties. There’s a plastic bag around one end to keep your hands clean. Hygiene is important, you know.
To eat sugarcane, you gnaw off a bite and chew. And chew. And chew. You swallow the juice as you chew, but DO NOT swallow the pulp. If you’re eating it in China, you simply spit the pulp out onto the sidewalk as you stroll along. Again, because China. It takes some practice to expel the whole wad in one PUH! but just keep practicing, and you’ll develop this handy skill. Copenhagen fans probably have this down-pat.
Continue gnawing and chewing until the cane is gone or your jaw is totally worn out, whichever comes first. For my family, it’s usually the latter, ‘cuz look at the size of these things.
The nice part is that, unlike all the stuff made from its refined juices, I feel like sugarcane might be beneficial to your teeth. Mine always feel so beautifully scrubbed after chewing all that fibrous mass. I don’t know that dentists would agree, but oh well. That won’t keep us from enjoying this lovely “fruit” snack.
What in the Middle Kingdom? Dr. Seuss fruit #2 – fire dragon fruit
March 24, 2015 at 6:27 am
i so appreciate this explanation! this is something I never have understood or bothered to google while living here…and started wondering again this year as I saw the large sticks show up again in the markets. maybe just maybe we’ll try some this year. 🙂
March 24, 2015 at 8:26 am
I’m glad it helped, Diane! Definitely give it a try. Some of my friends find it too messy and don’t think the taste is all that great, so I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but it’s at least good for some fun pictures. And who knows, maybe it will end up being one of your favorite street snacks? 🙂
March 27, 2015 at 10:23 am
My mom used to buy pieces for us here in the states when I was a kid. I thought it was so cool! Never got very far, either. ha. It’s a fun treat. Thanks for all the great stories. I look forward to your new blog entries.
March 27, 2015 at 10:31 am
Now you’ve got me curious, Nichole! Was this when you were living in Arizona? Did she buy them at the supermarket? The first time I saw sugarcane like this, I was in Mexico–deep in Mexico–so I’m surprised she found it in the States.