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Goya: The Ugly, Bitter, Life Saving Beauty Aid

By: Angelina Esparza

Date Posted: 2000-06-02

Have you ever wondered who was the first deranged lunatic to eat a snail? Was he starving in the middle of the desert, crazed by dehydration, and in attempt to survive, reached for that slimy critter and named it "escargot"? And was it the same guy who discovered the culinary benefits of blue cheese, octopus and menudo?

Whatever the case, Okinawa has contributed admirably to this unsavory food group. The goya, notorious for its unrelenting bitterness, has perhaps the most hideous appearance of all foods. However, the grotesquely bumpy surface of this squash-like vegetable greatly undermines its significant benefits.

Originally from India, the goya made its way to China where its medical values were first put to use. Every part of the goya anatomy was found to have contained a useful antidote. The vine stopped diarrhea, the flower worked as a painkiller, the fruit relieved burns and the seeds encouraged fertility.

Modern scientific studies, conducted at Toronto University, not only confirmed many of these Chinese beliefs but also went so far as to link the goya to several life-saving remedies. Research shows the goya should be an ideal ingredient for a healthy diet. Experiments dating from the 1970s display a dramatic decrease of blood-sugar levels and cholesterol levels among diabetics.

Further studies confirm its effects on reducing the chances of getting cancer and even lowering the virus count of a person infected with AIDS. Aside from these incredible therapeutic traits it is also interesting to know that the goya can also be considered a beauty product. The abundance of vitamin C can allieve stress symptoms and address skin problems.

Japanese scientists gather that the record longevity found in Okinawa is largely attributed to the goya. According to a recent survey by a local Goya club, 90% of Okinawans love their goya. This reflects a long enduring love affair with goya that has been passed down in Okinawan households.

The goya champuru is a typical homemade dish prepared by sautéing thinly sliced goya with tofu and other vegetables. The recent "health boom" in Japan has inspired an unusual line of goya products including goya soba, goya tea, goya cake, goya juice and goya ice cream.

Despite the obvious ugly and bitter characteristics of this plant, don't be appalled the next you have an opportunity to taste it. Some might say its acquired taste but I say, "get used to it", because the goya is here to stay.

A Recipe For Goya Champuru

Ingredients: 500gm goya (sliced), 1/2 tofu (chopped), 2tablespoons vegetable

oil, bacon or pork (chopped), salt and pepper for seasoning, 1 egg

*Other chopped vegetables may be added

1.Chop the tofu into pan and fry with oil until slightly brown

2.Fry in chopped bacon or pork into the pan

3.Fry in the goya and season with salt and pepper

4.Crack the egg over the sauté and stir-fry till egg is cooked

Served with rice

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