History of Edible Bird Nest
Bird Nest – The Beginning
He lost count of how many generations his ancestors have been occupying this land, this raw bountiful land now known as Borneo.
He is an indigenous tribal man, living out of caves and makeshift shelters that hardly qualify as a hut. He speaks no languages but simply communicates his basic needs to his community.
There are other tribes beside his own, each living in their own area and populating the jungles and the caves, eking out a living by gathering fruits and plants, and of course, the occasional hunted animal.
He walked a little bit further today despite the sweltering sun, taking pride in his youth and ability to withstand hardship. But like any other tropical country, Heaven has plans of its own. The sun was soon overshadowed by water-laden clouds, which in turn, waste no time in emptying its burdens like a blessing down to earth.
Our jungle boy was reluctantly persuaded to take accommodation in the nearest caves, while praying that his fellow tribes people are safe from the rain too.
This wasn’t his first visit to these particular caves but he seldom stayed long here, for the dampness and darkness wasn’t something every human can appreciate. The incessant high pitch screeching of the swiftlets and the bats made it an even less desirable attraction.
Since the weather is going to remain the same for some time, he took this opportunity to focus his acute vision on his surroundings. Scanning the high walls and ceiling of the cave, he was astounded by what he saw.
Tiny white cup-like structures are fixated in the most disorderly arrangement all over the upper levels of the cave walls and ceiling. And hundreds, if not thousands of swiftlets are popping in and out of these nests like a game of hide and seek.
Even the modern man would be surprised to learn of birds building nests in caves instead of on trees, so one can imagine the amazement of this uneducated tribesman.
His instincts instantly told him that these different caves are conducive for these birds and bats to stay and breed compared to the ones his people are staying in. After all, no two caves are alike.
Fascinated, he made a commitment to come back and learn more about these cave dwelling birds. He may eventually discover something beneficial to his people, especially if he can unlock a new source of food.
Discovery of Edible Bird Nest
Bird Nest – The Discovery
Over the next few months, he returned to these Bird Caves several times, often in the daylight to try and observe as much as he can about this new phenomena. He is not alone this time. His fellow food gatherers are excited about his findings and have accompanied him on this long trek.
Suddenly, one of his companions is gesticulating wildly. Following the direction of his shaking finger, they began to understand why. Not too far from them is the most beautiful cave lizard they have ever seen. It is similar to a house lizard albeit tougher and bigger in size.
This cave lizard is nearly shimmering. Unlike the common cave lizards they are used to seeing, this cave lizard has the nicest shade of colour, smooth glowing skin and almost bursting with regality. It is the most handsome cave lizard they have ever laid their eyes on.
As they looked on with a baffled expression, the cave lizard calmly approaches an empty swiftlet nest and began eating it, starting from the edges.
Upon further observation, the men chanced upon other extraordinary looking cave lizards and even cockroaches, either at rest or feeding on the abandoned nests.
By now, it is evident that there is something unique about these bird nests, something that improves the skin and appearance of its consumer. Most importantly, it is something possibly edible that they can use to sustain their diet.
Like the cavemen they are, rocks were hurled upwards towards the nests, dislodging several of them. The nests fell down into the waiting arms of these men, broken eggs and all.
Carrying their newfound harvest, the men eagerly headed back home to show their tribal chief what they have gathered.
Unknown to them, this accidental discovery will soon spark off a huge interest by travelling Chinese explorers and merchants, taking this prized delicacy all over the world.
A new food is born.