Tropical vines really tie things together at Jakarta sharehouse

Dude, here’s a post about the view from our rattan planter’s chair and the chair itself. Rotan (the original Malay word), like Indonesian furniture in general, is a bit of a mystery to me. A sad one, I suppose, since it involves palms.

Human genome research will eventually corroborate the Western weakness for things like bamboo and palms. Theo Meier, Paul Gaugin and a century of tropical tourism have already proven this. Meanwhile, a vine-like palm seems to defy Google pictures . Of course if you hang around these parts very long, you learn that wine, ethanol, books, music — pretty much anything — can be made from palms.

All I know is there used to be tons of nice rotan baskets at Cikini Train Station, a colorful place this time of year anyway, since the Indonesian version of the Christmas stocking is a rotan basket of goodies called a parcel. But a few years ago I noticed a Pier 1-type feeling of futility while trying to pry the smallest waste paper basket from its owner — three bucks maybe.  What’s the bind? Indonesia has 70-80% of the world’s rotan production. It can be grown on a farm.  And a certain percentage of humanity can’t seem to live without it.  (The rest hate it, by the way).  It’s hard to tell, but that much potential, I suppose vested interests are just weaving a big mess out of it, like the furniture question and wooded things in general here in the East Indies.

Anyway here’s the link to the translated Rotan Indonesia page which has good information. They make a seemingly good point: let’s not become the world’s largest provider of fake natural furniture.

Various members of the piper family pictured here. Medicinal red sireh (on the trellis) is another stringy thingy with roots deep in human (and ant) history. It’s potent enough but — like rotan — probably not living up to potential. Here at the Sharehouse it’s used mostly for female hygiene and garden-variety jamu. But you’ll find this same piper creeper genus deeply implicated in your favorite black pepper beef & broccoli; kava drinks from the South Pacific; and Ritlan, Demerol and several anti-psychotics (via chemical reagent piperidine).

However, hot, cold and lukewarm peppers — extremely prominent in the Sharehouse crisper — aren’t pipers at all: they belong to genus capsicum, a member of the nightshade family. The common name for this lovely edible depends on where in the world you are. In Indonesia or Holland the Google picture monster produces results like the one below when fed with the word paprika.

Paprika = pepper

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