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"Paraky" Top 5 Page for this destination Madagascar Local Custom Tip by Norali

Madagascar Local Customs: 37 reviews and 48 photos

  Not that he sucks paraky
by Norali

Tobacco chewing (sucking ?) is customary in some parts of the island. I don't know about the others but it is so in my region, Tana. I've never noticed people sucking paraky in other regions.

Paraky is powdered (micronized) tobacco that is sold in bags (like our tea bags). The bag contains a certain quantity that the user uses to partition in several intakes. Usually, those who suck paraky place the powder between lower lip and the front gum. Hence the blackish or greenish gum of those who use to take paraky. So, they place some grams of the powder, use to let it "infuse", leave it there for awhile then replace it after some time. To get rid off it, they use to spit ! hence the black-green spits on the soils (not that Tana streets are covered by spits, though.. ).
People who use paraky use to be small people, street vendors, fruit vendors, pousse-pousse pullers, workers... I've never used it but as a kid used to have the sight of one of my grand-ma's employees placing his paraky. I know how it smells.. smells tobacco indeed.

It's only when getting acquainted with a Swedish colleague that I could try something similar. Sven used to "suck his stick" after lunch. He told me then that Malagasy people are the only country in the world that use to suck tobacco as Swedes do. His "paraky" is packed in small sticks that he used to place in his mouth, keep for awhile and renew... I tried it, to know the taste and the taste stings a bit.. I imagine it is raw tobacco that has this particular taste. I didn't like it but the odour resembled so much the Malagasy paraky...

In Mada, it was a real business. It even allowed a family to become one of richest families in Mada.. The Dad started manufaturing and selling paraky, selling nails, candles.. things Malagasy small people would need... Two generations after, they own a business in printing, in chemical business, stakes in many industries and French wineyards and have townhouses in Paris, NY.. whatever.. They started with paraky

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 15, 2005
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