Pile fruit and spices in Xe Dang cuisine

Cuisine in the lives of Kon Tum ethnic people is very diverse and rich. In addition to grilled meat, bamboo rice, etc., the spices for the meal are also quite important and unique. In the past, when villages were lacking in salt, they could use Tranh root to make salty taste, Dot tree root to make sweet taste, bamboo shoots to make pickled foods, hot peppers to help them eat better, etc. When going to the fields, they use a type of fruit (the Xe Dang people call it Pileo, and the Bahnar people call it play-cho-may). According to them, it helps quench thirst and avoid fatigue. Once on a business trip to Dak Long commune – Kon Plong district, I also enjoyed the very strange flavor of this fruit.

 

January 8, 2015.1%20ttdlPile fruit

Pile fruit has a slightly sour taste when biting into it, then chewing it has an astringent taste and swallowing it, we feel a cool sweet taste. The fruit has a characteristic aroma that lasts for hours in the neck after eating. This tree is also very unique in that it only bears fruit in the dry season, around April or May of the year, intelligent animals (orangutans, monkeys, wild boars,…) and even large animals such as deer, Mang.. often eat this fruit, helping them quench their thirst under the harsh sunlight of the Central Highlands. Therefore, in some perennial trees, people often find the wild boar’s fangs broken and stuck in the tree trunk, because they often hit the tree trunk to make the fruit fall.

In the past, when hunting, they did not have nets like now, they only used rudimentary self-made weapons, so hunting was mainly about finding tracks and following the animal. The belief of ethnic minorities when hunting is that if they encounter a Pileo tree in the forest, it is a sign of luck and the probability of meeting a big animal is very high. Because the animal will definitely come to eat this fruit, they just need to stop near this tree to set a trap or they will also follow the animal’s footprints and feces to track down its hiding place. Maybe because of that, when hunting an animal during this season, when cutting it open, we can easily see that the Pile fruit is still in the animal’s stomach. And they don’t throw it away, but usually leave the animal’s stomach intact to cook it, then season it with salt and MSG to taste and then you can eat it right away. This special dish is also called “bitter”. It is a matter of pride for any hunter to have this signature dish. Only distinguished guests are invited to it. Although eating this “bitter” dish is not easy at all, it can haunt diners’ noses for a whole week. but the smell still doesn’t go away.

January 8, 2015.2%20ttdlWild pepper

Local people often bring Pile fruit with them when working in the fields and use it as a refreshment. Before drinking water, they often chew a fruit, the water will have a slightly sweet taste, its taste and aroma can last for hours in the throat, it is as if it is deceiving people’s taste buds, eating the fruit and then eating it. When we drink water, it always feels sweet and cool.

The products of the mountains and forests in the northernmost regions of the Central Highlands always bring countless new things. People have also made very clever use of what nature has given them. Somewhere in this place there are still many interesting things that can even be hidden. Personally, living and working in Kon Tum for many years always feels strange.