Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CROOKED TREE VILLAGE CASHEW FESTIVAL



Get ready! Are you ready? I said, Are you ready?


Crooked Tree Village will celebrate 17 years of a Taste of Crooked Tree and Village Life.


For those of you unfamiliar with this festival, the rules are simple; Visitors and locals pay a small fee at the Cashew Fest Grounds, where over 50 vendors participate in making and selling food and wine made from the Cashew Apple (fruit). You can buy all kinds of cashew products- jams, jellies, fudge, syrup, cookies, cake and the famous cashew wine; some of it is quite drinkable and no need to fear Napa Valley!! There is even a Ms. Cashew Queen, live bands, dignitaries, speeches and prizes. Nowadays, the visitors come from all over the world.


WHEN: May 2nd and 3rd 10 a. m- 7 p. m.
WHERE: Crooked Tree Village, a short 33 mile trip north of Belize City.
TIP: Don’t come out too late, the good stalls tend to get raided early.


The Cashew Apple is very unique in the botanical world, having the nut hanging outside the fruit and is easily twisted off. Together it is one of the most fascinating sights in nature. The cashew apple comes in red or yellow, is very fleshy, soft and juicy, and looks like a bell pepper. The nuts can be prepared manually or by mechanical methods, unfortunately only the manual method is done in Crooked Tree Village.


The nuts are roasted over an open flame in its thick outer shell and cracked by hand. The outer shell contains the cashew nut shell liquid oil. The oil has many industrial uses in India such as varnishes, paints and adhesives. In Brazil a tea is made from the cashew bark and is used to stop diarrhea, while the shell oil is used to treat skin infections, warts, intestinal worms and parasitic larvae beneath the skin.


Within this outer shell is the soft white kernel, covered by a delicate layer called the testa membrane. The kernels are then dried to reduce the moisture or to kill any possible insects. The next process is to roast the kernels in an oven to a golden and crispy hue, and then the testa membrane is removed, which gives the whole beautiful appearance that we are familiar with in the stores. Salt can be applied to this most delicious nut.


Cashew nuts from Crooked Tree Village are 100% natural, no cholesterol, no chemicals or artificial flavors and are a good source of protein. The cashew apple is rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin B2. The Vitamin contents are higher that most major tropical fruits. It also includes fructose sugar, which is a diabetic tolerant sugar. 


I should mention that the Crooked Tree Village Cashew Festival is musically a very lively place, with a wide variety of musical styles and instruments. A lot of the music is Caribbean rhythm with variations such as Punta Rock, Soca and Reggae. One very unusual arrangement is three tortoise shells attached to the player’s waist and he would play them the same way as you would play the drums. I am unfortunately, a complete musical illiterate, so I can’t give you an adequate description, but if you love music, food and wine, come on down to Crooked Tree Cashew Fest. 


Overall, Crooked Tree Village and the country of Belize are blessed with a lot of musical talents.


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