When you live in a northern climate, far away from the tropics, you never get a chance to see where some of your yummies come from. Kicking back on the couch on a chilly winter night, maybe with the gang, you pop open a can of mixed nuts and watch the football game. A couple peanuts here, maybe an almond or two, if it’s the deluxe mix, a brasil nut or two, and oh – your favorite – cashews. Ever wonder where they come from?
On one of my first trips to El Salvador, my husband pulled over on the road and showed me these fruits. “See these?,” he asked me “These have nuts inside them. Semilla de marañon.” I looked at this tree with all these yellow fruits, and at the bottom of each one was a funny looking thing, kind of grayish green, that appeared to be growing out of it. Strangely enough, it was in the shape of something very familiar. It was one of those naive gringa “wow” moments the natives here like to giggle at us for. Each marañon, as they are called in Spanish, will grow a seed, not on the inside of its fruit, like most fruits do*, but as a funny bud on the end, in an extremely hard shell, with the seed inside. And that seed, my friends, is the cashew. You cannot bite the seed open, it has to be roasted, and be sure to have a lot of fresh air when doing so, if you ever try, as the smoke can be toxic.