Chinese Cooking

Jim McKenney
Wed, 08 Oct 2008 13:06:37 PDT
I have not seen Trappa bicornis for sale in grocery stores here yet –
perhaps I am not looking in the right stores or at the right season. The
related Trappa natans (introduced from Europe in the nineteenth century)  is
a serious invasive pest in some parts of northeastern North America.  Not
only is it a threat to native flora: it’s said that the horned seeds wash up
on beaches and make the beaches treacherous for bare-foot bathers. 


Eleocharis dulcis corms from the grocery store make an easy way to get a
start with this species. The leaves are about the thickness of soda straws
and three or four feet long. It’s very poetic to see a dragonfly perched on
one of these in late summer. Now is probably a good time to look for them in
the grocery stores; in my experience many do not grow, so buy more than you
think you will want. I look them over for signs of sprouting before I buy


Plants are not the only Asian delicacies making themselves at home here: the
Asian snakehead, an aggressive, somewhat eel-like fish, has become
established here in the greater Washington, D.C. area. When local
authorities first became aware of their presence, there was a burst of
activity directed at their control and elimination. But by then they were
already established, and each year it becomes apparent that they are more
widespread in the area than previously thought. 


And is the Asian oyster already established in local waters? Probably,
although no one is admitting it yet. There was a program to establish this
species in the area, and the study used “sterile” oysters to study their
adaptability to local conditions. Asian oysters are said to be much more
productive than the native species under the conditions which now prevail in
Chesapeake Bay. I’ve heard rumors that breeding Asian oysters are in fact on
the loose here, and if so that probably means that the native oyster is
doomed as a separate species. 


Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

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