FALLING IN LOVE…WITH KUMARAKOM, PART 6: WEAVING AND A TODDY

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I would be remiss if I didn’t include the people of Kumarakom/Kerala in my reasons for falling in love with the area. Smiles were abundant and  infectious, hospitality at its most inviting with wishes granted before one even had the thought.  The simple, peaceful way of living off the land was a master class in  ecology with humans and their surroundings in perfect balance.  Let me provide a few examples.

WEAVING – There was no need for a Home Depot or Home Goods store to provide ropes, mats, baskets of every shape and size.. The Malayalis  (Mayalayum is the main language spoken)  or Keralites are expert craftsmen.  We visited the home of one such family  and it was fascinating to watch them as they took palm tree fronds or coir (coconut fibre extracted from the outer husk of coconut ) and turn them into beautifully woven mats or extremely strong rope:

Palm Fronds:

Coir:

 

While I had already been aware of the craft of weaving, the art of toddy tapping was quite new to me.  Now I do know about a hot toddy – a heated cocktail containing scotch, whiskey or bourbon, honey and lemon.  Turns out there is a connection between this and the toddy I got to taste in Kumarakom.  One story states that around 1610 the British, who controlled India at the time, discovered a local drink made with fermented palm sap, called a “taddy”in Hindi.  Through the years the toddy became a staple in pubs in England and was defined as an alcoholic drink made with scotch, hot water, spices and sugar.

The simpler toddy version in Kumarakom can, if fermented correctly also provide a powerful kick.

Toddy Tapping:

While a simple procedure, toddy tapping requires a bit of gymnastic ability. A coconut tree is about 70 feet tall and the flowers are right at the treetop. A toddy tapper needs to climb the tree up to the flowers. This is done in a few seconds by climbing in a few ways.  A piece of rope tied around the waste and one tied between the feet is the simplest version:

There are also some quite ingenious metal contraptions to speed up the process:

Sap is collected from cutting the flowers  and then attaching a bucket/container to the flower stump.. The white liquid that is initially collected is pretty sweet and at a very low level of alcohol content before it is fermented.

Fresh out of the pot the toddy tasted  like a slightly sweet  nectar. Not everyone in my group liked it, but I took another helping (

or two).

No buzz, to be honest…

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