Tastey Nuts

I’m a fan of the seed and nut family, as many can attest. I maintain a supply of them at my desk at work for the occasion of snacking, which comes regularly. There are also infinite jokes to be told that never get old:

Hello everybody. I have brought my nuts for everybody to enjoy. They’re oddly shaped, but salty and satisfying. Don’t be shy, there’s more than enough for everyone to get their hands on.

That’s not crude, that’s generous. A 27oz. container of cashews will cost me $10.00-$12.00. Anyway, the cashew caught my interest this morning. From whence did it come? Were its travels arduous? Who were its parents? How has it come to be?

From the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy all-knowing Wikipedia, we read:

The cashew (Anacardium occidentale) is a tree in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The plant is native to northeastern Brazil. Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which in turn derives from the indigenous Tupi name, acaj├║. It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew “nuts” and cashew apples.

180px Koeh 010 Tastey NutsAnn’s House of Nuts┬« may very well import theirs from India, which has the largest Kaju farms in the world. What interests me most if the variety of uses of the tree (especially those of a medicinal quality), as well as the parts of the fruit we do not see. The cashew apple is apparently used as a raw fruit in places where they grow, but because the skin is so fragile, it is not feasible to ship it. I had originally looked up the nut to see how it looked on the tree. I had imagined thousands of crooked, walnut-like shells dangling from a tree. The truth is even more bizarre! The cashew apple is actually a false-fruit, psuedofruit, that develops between the peduncle and the drupe. Unless you’re a botanist, there are a couple of new words for you. The cashew nut we all know actually dangles off the end of the pseudofruit, presumably until a creature eats the psuedofruit and drops the seed to ground where it can germinate. What’s even more bizarre is that the seed is actually encased within a shell containing urushiol. That’s the stuff that makes you break out in an itchy rash on poison ivy! Who in the world decided it was worthwhile to pick apart this shell to eat the small, fleshy nut inside? Why wouldn’t they have just stopped at the cashew apple and been done with it? Just another example of how one man’s pain is another man’s pleasure.

Dear Cashew Nut Harvester,
Though your spreading rash and insistent itch must be a grave burden to bear, the world appreciates the labor in your continued efforts. Like your father, and your father’s father, you pick at your nuts endlessly only to endure the torturing discomfort of its rash. I, for one, do not take these measures for granted and recognize the pain and suffering you must endure. From your hands you render great swollen nut sacks and feed salivating mouths everywhere. Thank you.