Feeling horny? Then this is the food for you.
I'm not talking about Pfizer products, this has nothing to do with the loins and their wanton lusts.
There's actually an edible starchy underwater nut around that grows in the exact shape of a buffalo head, horns and all.
If you weren't told, you'd have no idea what to do with them, except perhaps paint disgruntled buffalo faces on them and tease your kids.
A couple of years ago when I lived in Phuket, mysterious signs would pop up randomly along major roads. The sign consisted of a sort of Buffalo horn shaped silhouette with an arrow.
I never saw any buffaloes. And I wondered that if there WERE buffaloes for sale, why drivers would stop in their car to buy one.
It seemed a bit far-fetched.
Then one of my staff showed up with a bag of 'krajab' and inducted me into the secret world of water caltrops.
The signs were actually 'krajab' vendors advertising their wares, using no language – just an image in the shape of these weird-looking things.
In English, krajab are called 'water caltrops', and although you can Google them by writing 'buffalo shaped water chestnuts', they aren't really water chestnuts at all.
These are the underwater 'fruits' of the water caltrop plant, and they get pulled out of the mud, cleaned, boiled then sold nice and fresh to eager Phuket residents.
In fact, all across Asia.
They're just as they look.
Hard, woody, impenetrable wee buffalo heads that have no apparent entry hole or edible bits.
These are actually a pretty ancient food.
They date back to prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
German cave-men (or whatever the politically correct word is for pre-historic humans from that part of Europe is) relied on these things as a major part of their diet.
In China they were used as religious offerings, so obviously quite highly regarded.
In Australia, Philistines that we are, the water caltrop is declared a noxious weed.
The nut inside is very starchy like an actual chestnut – not crunchy like a water chestnut. They're loaded with carbs and have a good taste and texture.
They're a popular snack in season, and in Phuket people nosh on them readily, cracking open the shells and digging out the woody interior.
In India the flesh from water caltrops is dried and pounded into a flour for use in cooking.
In Europe these wee critters were common until the late 1800s but now are very rare indeed. In Asia they are still popular, and found in lakes, canals, khlongs and ponds up to 5 metres deep.
They only grow underwater, held into the mud by fine roots. Their stem grows up to 14 feet long so they can be found up to a fair depth in rural areas.
Be careful if you find them yourself, and don't eat them raw.
Like water chestnuts (and most other water-plants) they can carry parasites that will make you sick. Intestinal flukes (wee flatworms) are possible if these aren't cooked.
They are usually boiled when you buy them, ready to eat, but no doubt people forage them also to save money or get some foraging thrills.
I don't know anyone myself who has been sick from these, and everyone used to eat them like crazy, so the sellers would seem to do a good job of preparing them.
The parasites are only on the outside, and boiling will kill them, rendering them harmless.
Do you eat these? I'd love to hear from you about your experiences with them.