Indo-American Interconnected Overtones: Nannari Sherbet and Root Beer

I had my first root beer on our country trip to Lancaster, PA after Jay’s assurance on the non-alcoholic clause. Jay had his nannari sherbet at a chettinad restaurant this February in Bangalore. We both enjoyed our drinks without realizing another connection.

Nannari Sherbet

Nannari Sherbet

Root Beer

Root Beer

Wikipedia says root beer was first commercially introduced in Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition by Charles Hires in 1876 under the name “root tea”. However was changed to “root beer” to attract the coal miners of Pennsylvania. FDA banned a key ingredient sassafras root in 1960, as it contains a carcinogen, safrole. Sassafras is a species of a deciduous tree native to northeastern America. Sassafras root is replaced by artificial flavoring or the natural extract after removing the carcinogen safrole. The other main ingredient of root beer is sarsaparilla that got its name from Spanish words “zarza” – bush, “parra” – vine and “illa” – small – hence the name sarsaparilla or zarzaparilla. It is a trailing vine native to Mexico and Central America. It is considered to have medicinal properties by native Americans. Medicinal uses can range from gout, syphilis, gonorrhea, rheumatism, wounds, arthritis, fever, cough, scrofula, hypertension, digestive disorders, psoriasis, skin diseases, and cancer.

Indian Sarsaparilla

Indian Sarsaparilla

Sarsaparilla

Sarsaparilla

Nannari sherbet is a popular Tamil drink during all hottest summers of India. Extracts from nannari roots, with a hint of lemon juice, and palm sugar helps to keep the body cool. The root has a pleasant odor. Nannari is a species of slender, twining, prostrate or a semi-erect shrub. It is known as Indian sarsaparilla or false sarsaparilla. Indian school of medicine calls it as Ananthamoola or Ananthamul. Studies have proven its anti-diabetic effect. Its medicinal uses are listed from skin diseases, asthma, bronchitis, diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids, and fever.

Nannari Sarasaparilla
Kingdom Plantae Plantae
Unranked Angiosperms Angiosperms
Unranked Eudicots Monocots
Order Gentianales Liliales
Family Apocynaceae Smilacaceae
Genus Hemidesmus Smilax
Species indicus ornata
Binomial Name Hemidesmus indicus Smilax ornata

There are similarities and differences but if we look deeper our roots share common instincts.

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