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myMEGusta

Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

Cashew!

Cashew Nuts

Who knew that a visit to St. Lucia in the Caribbean would yield a taste of freshly roasted cashews, made the old fashioned way over a wood fire, cracked and peeled by hand and still warm when gobbled up?

Cashews are another of the universally loved foods that originated in the New World, specifically, Brazil. Portuguese traders introduced them to Europe, and then to more exotic locales where they became wildly popular and a staple of local cuisines, like in India and China.

Cashew fruits, note kernel at base

Have you ever wondered why cashews are never sold in the shell, like most other popular nuts?

Raw cashew kernels

Cashews contain a chemical similar to the irritant found in poison ivy, and so they are never eaten raw. The thick, hard nuts are usually heat processed, by steaming or roasting, and this facilitates the necessary removal of the outer shell and skin.

Roasting cashews the old fashioned way

Cashews roasting in St. Lucia

They can also be processed by drying, which can be the case when they are marketed as “raw”, although that may just mean that they have had no further roasting (with or without oil) or salt.

Chinese spicy cashew chicken

The less processed nuts will show up in Chinese, Indian and other popular dishes, while the more processed (developing further flavors) will show up in a Planter’s can or in a little dish on an airplane.

Indian cashew rice

Cashews are particularly popular among vegetarians, because of their high protein content, and you can even find cashew paste and flour in an Indian market (or just go on Amazon or drive to Trader Joe’s). They also appear to be a viable food for those on Paleo diets.

One of myMEGusta’s good cookin’ friends uses ground cashews instead of panko for coating fish, a great idea which she is going to try!

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2 thoughts on “Cashew!

  1. Good informative story. I love cashews and remember vaguely having visited a cashew plant in Goa. It was a big factory and the smell of roasting nuts was strong and wonderful. I am glad you share with us your travel stories. keep going.

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