Too much of a good thing

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It was a search for my husband’s favorite root beer that led to a discussion about sugar cane. I hadn’t thought about sugar cane in a long time, but it was once a treat I looked forward to this time of year.

Back to how the topic arose. I was in a local store walking up and down the soft drink aisle searching. I finally gave up and asked an employee standing in the stockroom door if they were out of A&W Root Beer.

“Let me look,” she said, disappearing behind a stack of boxes.

In a minute, she returned with the news that there was no root beer in the stockroom.

“My husband likes that root beer,” she said. “He says it is the best one.”

I told her that was my husband’s favorite too. Then the conversation took a turn that eventually ended up at sugar cane.

“I got sick from drinking a root beer float when I was a kid,” she said. “Now I don’t like root beer.”

“The same thing happened to me,” I said, “but it was watermelon that made me sick.”

“You don’t eat watermelon?” she said, with a look that said how sad that seemed.

“Oh, I eat it a little, but not much,” I said.

And, then sugar cane entered the discussion.

“The worst I ever got sick was after eating sugar cane,” I said. “I loved sugar cane when I was a kid, but not anymore.”

“I haven’t thought about sugar cane in years,” she said. “We used to eat it too. It would sure give you a sugar high.”

We both laughed and I left the store to seek root beer somewhere else trailing sugar cane memories with me. I remember Daddy coming home with long stalks of it in the backseat of the car. I don’t know where he got it, but my siblings and I looked forward to its arrival.

I tried to remember exactly what is involved with eating sugar cane. Well, let me clarify. As I recall, you don’t actually eat the cane; you chew all the sugar out of it and spit out what’s left. That sounds a little gross as I type it, but at the time spitting out the leftover pulp seemed quite natural. Could be we even spit it at each other. Hey, we were kids and that’s what kids do when parents aren’t looking.

Later I asked my husband if he knew about eating sugar cane.

“Sure,” he said. “My grandfather grew it and he gave us some every year. You peeled it and cut it into pieces and you chewed.”

Then he said one time his brother got sick from eating it. Made me feel better to know I’m not the only that can’t handle consuming that much sweetness at one chewing.

I wonder if kids today know about sugar cane. I did find out on the internet that it is a good alternative to processed sugar and offers some health benefits.

I laughed when I read that it is good for digestion and works as a mild laxative because of its high potassium content. It works as a good method for making a child who chews too much throw it all back up, too.

Since I’ve develop tolerance for watermelon in the years since it made my tummy rumble, I wonder if the same might be true for sugar cane, but I have no idea where you find sugar cane and I’m not sure I know how to peel and slice it since Mother always did that for me.

Of course, there is a video on YouTube that demonstrates the correct process for eating it. I tried to watch it, but it is pretty graphic and when the chewing and spitting of the pulp commenced, my stomach screamed NO.

So, I am going to make my stomach happy and leave sugar cane eating in the past. Maybe I will start drinking root beer floats instead.