Wednesday 3 October 2012

Peanuts and pistachios

Comfort nibbles. Pre-prandial snacks. Roasted and salted – just enough to tempt you not to stop. Looking at them on the shelves in Sainsbury's, the peanuts are cheaper so, although you really prefer the pistachios, peanuts it is.

But things aren't always what they seem. The contents of that huge bag of dry-roasted peanuts are already shelled. There's no grace about eating them – tip out a large quantity and munch your way through them. And then some more. Pistachios, on the other hand, are designed to tease. The green kernel pokes invitingly through the tear in its wrapping. You extract and savour the succulent centre before turning to the next. This one reveals rather less of its inner goodness, and requires the dextrous use of a knife to prise it out of the casing. The result is just as tasty. Requires just a tiny sip of wine before continuing.

And there's another thing. Pistachio-eating produces a lot of shell, which (in my case) goes back into the bowl with the original handful. After consuming about half, finding the next nut becomes quite a search among the debris. But – and here is the amazing thing – the nuts take an awful long time to run out. It's a bit like the loaves and fishes, or the widow's jar of oil. Just when you think you've come to the end, there's another lurking beneath a half-husk. By the time you really have finished, you've eaten far fewer pistachios than if it had been peanuts, but the enjoyment has been prolonged and much greater. In the end, I reckon, pistachios are cheaper than peanuts, not by the kilo but by the month. Things aren't always what they seem. Good thing to remember during political party convention season.

It's amazing what you think about when you're not going out.


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