That time I ate a chair

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Hey there kids,

Do you know what rattan is? You may have some in your home. It’s the wood from a type of trees known as climbing palms and it’s often used to make furniture. If you have outdoor furniture made of wood, it might be rattan.

You can learn more about how important rattan is to the communities of Southeast Asia from WWF.

I’ve owned my fair share of rattan furniture in the past. I think I even have a rattan picture frame that I stole from grandma many years ago. But, never, ever, before last week did I think of rattan as a substance one might eat. Sit on, yes, ingest, no.

I mean, I’ve eaten bamboo shoots but rattan? Really?

Turns out you can eat rattan, the inner core of some species is edible. And in the mountains between Vietnam and Laos it’s considered a delicacy.

I went with my friends Quynh and Susanna to meet a group of women who are participating in a project that will help them raise goats to earn money and help send their children to school. They collected a variety of tasty snacks to welcome us when we arrived. My favorites were the purple sticky rice, squash slices and bamboo shoots. The most surprising was the rattan. But dipped in salt it wasn’t bad.

When I texted Uncle Richard that night to tell him I’d tasted rattan for the first time his reply was, “??? As in a chair ???”

Are you interested in trying rattan? I found a handy dandy video online about how to find it, cut it and prepare it. If I ever start that summer camp I’ve been talking about, this is going to be one of the activities. Also we’ll have goats (which I have learned like to eat jackfruit leaves and stay out of the rain). Who wants to sign up?


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