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I toddy you so in Myanmar PHYO WAI KYAW The Myanmar

I toddy you so in Myanmar

PHYO WAI KYAW The Myanmar Times  MAY 25, 2018

A toddy climber climbing a palm tree in Crown Prince Toddy Field.Phyo Wai Kyaw/The Myanmar Times

Crown Prince near Mandalay offers an oasis for toddy juice lovers. 

Alcoholic toddy juice is a delicacy from upper Myanmar where palm trees are everywhere. Their culture has become part of Myanmar culture. Big and small pots holding the precious juice are part of the decorum of Nyaung-U and Kyauk Pataung, where toursists and purists flock every year.

Near Mandalay, the township of Pathein Gyi is home to a famous toddy producer called Ein Shae Min Htan Taw (Crown Prince Toddy Field).

It is said that the trees in the area were planted by crown prince Kanaung, the son of King Tharrawaddy and younger brother of King Mindon. “I think the name of the shop is the main reason for its fame,” laughs Ko Fatty, the manager.

Ko Fatty started his career as a toddy climber at the age of 18. He used to climb a total of 100 palm trees a day. When he reached his 30’s, however, he became too portly to climb – hence the “Fatty” in his name. He started managing Crown prince and left the hard job to six younger, fitter climbers.

For the good stuff lives high up. “The taller the tree, the tastier the juice,” says Ko Fatty.

 

Toddy pots full of juice. Phyo Wai Kyaw/The Myanmar Times

The best moment to collect the juice is from December to March, he explains. “It is sweeter then”.

After being collected from the tree, the juice is placed in a pot with a piece of bark which gives the whole mix an astringent taste.

Crown prince is about 80-acre wide comprising over 100,000 large palm trees and another 100,000 small palm trees owned by a local cooperative.

“The taller the tree, the tastier the juice” Ko Fatty, Owner of Crown Prince Toddy Field

Visitors do not only come for toddy juice but also to enjoy long walk in this idyllic part of Myanmar’s countryside and picnics out of traditional Myanmar food under the shade of the palm trees.

When motorbikes became a popular item for the average Burmese to own, more and more people came to Ko Fatty’s tree farm. He built little huts for them to rest. Soon, he started to set-up adjacent businesses.

“When you drink toddy juice you must have fish paste with it,” says Ko Fatty. Conveniently, he sells some as well as spicy chicken. You can also buy oil, lime, moorhen, fried farm rat and salads.

Ko Htet from Mandalay is a regular customer. He has been coming to the park for the past 10 years. “I like the variety of toddy juice they have,” he says. Ko Fatty serves juice ranging from K 1000 a glass to K 7000. He serves his beverage cold or at room temperature. And, Ko Htet goes on, they keep the toilets clean.

Fried stuff from the farm with your toddy juice. Phyo Wai Kyaw/The Myanmar Times

The toddy in the bottle

Toddy juice can be kept three to four days in a sealed bottle. If you are a diehard fan who wants to drink palm wine even in scarce seasons, you can have it fermented and conserve it for years. Elders call that kind of palm wine “Nwar Kyat Thoe”. But beware of the hangover, the stuff is highly concentrated.

According to popular wisdom palm wine is good for your health. Ko Fatty (who is not a doctor) says that a person experiencing constipation can be cured with a bit of salt diluted in palm wine. If one’s vision becomes blurry, an eye drop of palm wine can cure it, he adds. (avoid the fermented one though).

But you might want to drink toddy juice rather than waste it. The number of toddy tree in Myanmar is falling and owners decry the deforestation of some areas. Consequently, the price of the juice is increasing. Entry price used to be K200 a bottle, it is now K500.

The genie is out, the price is up.

https://www.mmtimes.com/news/i-toddy-you-so.html

From: THE MYANMAR TIMES (Myanmar) May 25, 2018

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