Saturday, May 25, 2013

Army Worms Versus our Garden

( Source Kuensel May 22, 2013) 

Several days ago my mother came home from a walk and described a patch of sidewalk that was covered in black worms that appeared to be falling down the side of hill. You couldn't avoid stepping on them she said, the sidewalk was just teeming with them. Several days later we heard of someone's garden being overrun by these worms, nothing was left after they had munched their way through the garden. Horrifying but now we had a name for these worms-- army worms. The news started to cover the infestation, this Kuensel article  describes the slow western crawl of these hungry critters as they eat their way across the country, very much like an invading army. And my twitter feed started to fill up with remedies and comments from bemoaning inadvertently  killing  them to using  kerosene and vinegar to deter them.

And then this morning they were at our actual doorstep, eating our grass and headed straight for MadHatter's flower garden. My parents vegetable garden, full of just sprouting goodies, is next. We are trying a water and lemongrass spray but are all also making peace with the fact that our garden might only feed these little guys this year and not us. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Reading Note: Cat's Ears

Don't worry I am not not talking ACTUAL cat ears but about a common mushroom called Jilli Namchu ( or Dzongkha for Cat's Ears). The Raven Magazine -- a fairly new Bhutanese monthly magazine has a regular column called " Know your Food" focusing exclusively on Bhutanese foods. The column recently featured the Jilli Namchu. The mushroom is a personal favorite of mine, not so much because of its taste (which is not very strong) but because of its wonderfully-y chewy, almost rubbery texture. Not for everyone I suppose.

Among claims of the mushroom medicinal and nutritional properties ( which are apparently formidable) the articles also notes that " it is best eaten young when it is gelatinous and pliant. As it grown older, the mushroom grows black and hard . However, it does not have a poisonous doppelganger like other mushroom species."

The last line might seem like a strange thing to bring to your attention but with the recent horrific news of how four members of the same Bhutanese family died after eating a meal of poisonous mushrooms, I can't help worrying about the dangers of mushrooms collected in the wild.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Reading Notes: Collections of Honey.

In another life I worked for many years in a museum, backstage where all the artifacts were stored and cataloged and cared for. So understandable I have a soft spot for collections which is why I adored this recent blog post by  anthropologist Sarah Weber looking at what collections of honey in Palawan, Philippines could teach her about the flow of wild honey from forest to market to home. The answer? A lot! Particularly interesting was the way in which this museum-y approach allowed her to explore question about value and authenticity. What the post reminded me were the photos I sometimes see on social media-- particularly facebook- that people take of food that they purchased from various CSA ( Community Supported Agriculture) that they belong to and all the claims of value, purity and even perhaps a gentle moralizing implied in the photos ( often in the captioning of them).