Stinking Toe Sweet Eh!

Stinky to smell but Sweet as hell; just the sound of the name can turn you away from this big toe look alike. However, apart from the smell the stinking toe fruit parts company with the disturbing toes that stink because someone decided not to wash their sneakers for weeks.

Oh gosh I loved Stinking Toe even though the smell was not appealing and the power inside the hard shell could really make you cough if you did not take your time eating the contents.

For those of you who never tried eating Stinking Toe you missed out – how can you call yourself a true Trinidadian, ah born Trini, and you never ate Stinking Toe? If you don’t know it the smell and the taste have no comparison. The pulp is delicious – I really mean that. Maybe it is an acquired taste for some but I enjoyed eating Stinking Toe. I can remember getting my stinking toe from a tree that grew next to the river near the old rail track station in Arima (now the bus terminal). The one issue we had to deal with was how to get the fruit. The tree was very tall and the fruit was even more difficult to dislodge from the branches. However, when you were able to get a pod it was a heavenly childhood treat. The pod itself was not easy to open and a good pound with a stone did the trick.

We took this fruit for granted and it is still looked upon with scorn by many. Today (10/13/09) whilst listening to Damion Melville show “D’Lime,” I asked him if he remembered eating ‘Stinking Toe’ as a child. He responded with “me, I eh eating dat”; again, tonight I asked Kenny Phillips, owner of WACK radio 901fm, if he liked Stinking Toe and his response was “What is dat”. I sometimes wonder about those who claim to be “true Trini 2d bone”. I guess I have better things to remember about my youth and growing up in Trinidad than my true Trini brothers and sisters on the island.

Ok, here are some facts about the Stinking Toe: It is also known as “The West Indian Locust” and in some circles as “Old man’s Toe”. The scientific name for the pod is Hymenaea Courbaril and is one of the largest trees growing in the Caribbean region. The fruit is brown in color and shaped like a ‘big toe’ and can be found throughout the Caribbean region, Central and South America. A sealant used in dentistry that goes by the name of copalite is produced from copal the hardened sap collected from the stinking toe tree. In some of the islands the copal resin is smoked to alleviate headaches while in Brazil the lumberjacks working in the rainforest make a drink named Jatoba to give them energy and create a healthy appetite. In Mexico the copal is associated with magic and religion. It is reported that the Aztecs and Mayans use it to make incense for their purification rituals.

So my friends the next time you see my childhood delight don’t look at it with scorn become curious and sample this treat and become a child of the Stinking Toe tree.

Resource: Stinking Toe

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