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The Power of the Cashew Nut

cashew-cores-1549580_1920Once we moved into town we lived only a few blocks from Main Street and I would walk there with my mother when she shopped. I always tried to be especially well behaved on those excursions because I knew there would likely be some kind of reward if I did so. Normally, it would be something seasonal. In the spring of the year, it could be marbles, a fine Duncan yo-yo, or one of those balsa wood airplanes with a red plastic propeller and a rubber band engine. In the summer water guns were in order and in the fall it could be something related to Halloween. In the winter, green rubber army men were always great because I played with them for hours on the oval braided rug in front of the fireplace.

As I got a little older I discovered that the local five and dime stores also had some tasty treats that ranked right up there with the aforementioned toys. There was a long counter with a wide variety of candy bars plus candy dish-worthy selections priced by the pound. They had a huge variety…. chocolate covered peanuts, gum drops, chocolate drops, Hershey kisses, maple nuts candies, and many more. But soon I learned there was another delicious item lurking at the other end of the counter. Nuts. Not nuts still in the shell but nuts out of the shell, roasted, salted and kept warm by some device. From the moment I tasted these I was hooked…. especially on the cashews…jumbo cashews. Incredible.

On one occasion I remember we were concluding our shopping as we did on most trips, by going into S.H. Kress. This was my favorite store and was pretty much reward central. They always had a lot of cool toys and cranked it up as the seasons changed. Of the three places downtown that had candy counters and nuts, Kress was the best with candy and nuts stretching between the two entrance doors to the store, one on the far right and one on the far left. On this particular day, I made out like a bandit. Mama had already bought a large bag of army men for me but then said, “Let’s get some cashews to take home.” Wow. What a day. My mother walked up to the counter and asked for a pound of the hot, delicious cashews. She then handed me the bag and told me that I could eat a few on the way home but not too many.

My mother was sweet, kind, and a very smart woman. However, on this occasion, she made a bad mistake in judgement. She thought she could trust me to limit myself while transporting that bag of jumbo cashews. She did not know that I considered them to be the best thing to touch the tongue this side of heaven. Neither did she know how hopelessly addicted I was to these nuts. Along the six blocks home, she said kindly, “Don’t eat too many.” I nodded in agreement because I couldn’t talk since my mouth was stuffed with cashews.

By the time we got home I had devoured countless cashew nuts. Half a bag…the whole bag…I don’t even remember. I just knew I was about as sick as a little boy could be who had consumed so much in so short of a time. I stood on the back steps upchucking while my mother watched and said, “I never should have trusted you with them.” And she was so right. It was a while before I wanted or was allowed any more cashews but it was not an indefinite suspension.

Today nuts are still my favorite snack and cashews are at the top of my list. They are pretty expensive so most times I settle for peanuts. Of course, technically peanuts are not a nut but they still work for me. Occasionally, I spring for mixed nuts which are really great because of the varieties and different flavors. They, too, are quite pricey so again peanuts win out. But a few weeks ago when the holiday season was still in force, which I felt justified the extravagance, I bought a container of jumbo cashews from the store. I was tempted to stick some of the them in the microwave for a few seconds and warm them but I refrained…that would have taken too long. After all, once the jar was opened and the fragrance of nuts exited, well……I could just kind of hear my mother still saying, “Don’t eat too many.” So now over fifty years later I’m a little more disciplined…. but not much.

Tags: cashew nuts, snack