Salted Water Grass (咸水草)
短葉茳芏 in Chinese, Brackish Grass in English (Cyperus Malaccensis var. brevigolius)
written by Kai Chan
Salted water grass was what we used in Hong Kong to carry our market shopping. It got this name because it grows in areas where sea and river meet. When the stems of this grass are dried they are tough enough to be used as strings. It is hard to imagine now that in the days before plastic bags were used, this grass was used to carry food. In the food market one could easily spot people carrying in their hand several loops of salted water grass that are tied up around an assortment of produce that could include meat, fish or vegetables. Smaller items like peas, chestnuts, even tofu would be put in a piece of paper, folded into a cone shape, then tied with the grass for ease of carrying. By today’s standard it looks primitive and not sanitary, but that was the way we lived.
These days with the plastic bags becoming a huge environment issue, I could not help being nostalgia about this humble salted water grass.
(Le Système des objets is a new column about OBJECTS, with contributions by various authors. The column name is borrowed from the title of a book by Jean Baudrillard.)