Thanks to the internet and some family connections, I have a better identification of the ‘pitpit’ I described in my Interesting MK Tidbit #79 post. 🙂 After reading my post, my wonderful mother became curious enough to search through some old files she had and found the picture below to send me:
What I was attempting to describe is the variety on the right, which is basically ‘leaves’ all the way through. The variety on the left is heftier and closer to a ‘corn cob’ effect in that it has slightly thicker ‘leaves’ wrapped around a pale yellow edible center. Very good still steaming with a touch of salt, though watch you don’t burn your mouth. My brother described it as “like a cattail” in texture, which is pretty accurate. I wasn’t too far off in my asparagus allusion, though, since Wikipedia says that Saccharum edule (the Latin name for the ‘Coastal pitpit’ on the left, in case you can’t read the tiny print) is also known as Fiji asparagus. Apparently it is a member of the sugar cane family and is also widely eaten as a vegetable in Fiji.
The variety on the right, Setaria palmifolia, is also known as Palm Grass and is not lucky enough to have a Wikipedia entry, though my father said he’s seen it mentioned in a book by an anthropologist who did some work in our area as New Guinea asparagus.
So there you have it: the internet can be a wonderful educational tool. 🙂 (Thanks, family, for the contributions as well!)