Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cashews

Cashew apples.  One of the sweetest fruits on the planet.  Slight alum taste, but the juice would gush down your chin enough to make a SC peach jealous.

And as far as we were concerned, that was the only thing to do with them.  Eat the fruit, throw away the nut.  I mean, we remembered that expensive warped-peanut looking thing in the grocery store, and they were always the first item to go when the jar of mixed nuts were opened, but when we were in Brasil?  Nobody eats them.

But mom and dad asked the question anyway.  I mean, in a place where it grows wild, why are people who are living in poverty not supplementing their diet with easy, free protein? 

Turned out that the nut is poisonous. Muito perigoso.  Very dangerous.

Until it is roasted.

Roasting, as our predecessors on the river explained to us, is a tricky process, too.  Charles and Barbara Lawton (1st cousin, once removed) had tried it a year earlier.  Barbara had roasted them in the oven, and at the end of an hour roasting a pan of cashew nuts at 375 degrees, she opened the oven.

A poisonous steam shot out at her, making her face swell shut. For the next week, she could not open her eyes and her mouth and throat were raw from the superheated toxic steam.

So no oven-roasting for us.  My folks decided that the only way to do it was to make an outdoor fire, and roast them on the open fire.  Much better.

Now, O Best Beloved, in a jungle, keeping a fire going is tough work - 100% humidity is not conducive to campfires.  While I stayed my safe distance, Dad fed the fire, and mom turned the roasting cashews.  Both of them, inhaling smoke the whole time. 

The resulting rashes that they got were minimal, and I assume there was no real long-term effects from the inhalation of toxins.  But I do know that none of us ever thought that cashews were 'easy, free protein' ever again. 

And we always made sure to clean out the cashews from any party mix first off.  We know what kind of effort went into the prep.

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