Monday, August 23, 2010

Sweet Paan

We often buy milk from the local Sikh grocer, since the price of a gallon is a dollar cheaper than the supermarket's price. And out of curiosity, we sometimes buy something unusual or unfamiliar as well. The grocer carries a well-stocked supply of British dry goods, and T is known for picking up a favorite brand of salt and vinegar crisps when he runs in. But P has been considering those small packets wrapped in foil and labeled "sweet paan" for a while. Yesterday, he bought one. When he got into the car, we immediately smelled the pungent aroma of Indian spices. He opened the little packet, but was not sure if it was edible. Inside was a leaf, and inside the leaf was coconut, fennel, and lots of pretty-but-unrecognizable little bits of things. Don was brave and took a bite. I suggested that perhaps it was simply meant as an air freshener, and was toxic. But no. It turns out that sweet paan (the regular kind usually includes tobacco and a nut that is a known carcinogen) is an edible treat often given as a party favor.

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