Reub's journey

28 September 2010

Kang Kong

Last week I found this large, lovely bunch of greens at a local Asian market and I wondered what they were. My beautiful and clever niece suggested that they might be kang kong, or "water spinach." I wanted to find out if this wonderful new pair of words was right, so I stopped by the market and asked the owner, a Chinese man. He had to think for a few seconds, but he said that in Chinese it's called ong choy, Chinese water spinach. Disappointed, (because I like the sound of kang kong) I went ahead and inquired hopefully "It's not kang kong?"

"Yes, yes!" he said enthusiastically, "in the Philippines! They call it that there."

Good. I will call it that too, because it sounds a lot like King Kong and I can remember it. Just so you know, it is called phak bung in Vietnam, and rau muong in Thailand, and almost certainly something entirely different in southern India, where it is also used in cooking.

But, here's the thing. I always hate it when I decide something is great, and then find out it has an evil side to it: Toyotas kill people. Nalgene bottles cause cancer. Wind turbines decapitate migrating birds. AND it turns out, kang kong is a horrid, noxious invasive weed in Florida and Texas. Really? No! It was so good in my soup and stir fries, and now I learn that it is supposed to be eradicated?

It might be wise to point out to myself that Toyota has recalled its faulty cars and fixed the problem, that Nalgene now produces BPA-free water bottles and the old Nalgenes that I still sometimes use won't hurt me because they never get hot, and that wind turbines actually pose a very low risk to migrating birds. How bad can kang kong be? Can't we solve the problem by simply eating it? I'm pretty sure it would be good for us.

1 comment:

  1. It is disappointing to find the bad side to the good sides, isn't it? Especially food!


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