We were watching the Braves warm up on television last night and I saw one of the players spitting out pistachio hulls.
There is something mesmerizing about watching a grown man whizzing hulls out of his mouth, and, of course, the neat freak in me wonders who cleans up all those nasty things after the game is over.
Pistachios are the new favorite snack in our house. We have the "Pistachio Lovers Mix" from Planters (for when we have no patience and a huge appetite). We also buy a couple of bags a week of dry roasted pistachios and plant them by the TV.
These dang things are addictive. It is almost like when the evening news starts, I begin salivating for pistachios. If my husband gets to them first, all I have to hear is the sound of the shells popping open and I'm right next to him.
We'll sit there and hull and munch contentedly as Charlie Gibson tells us what's wrong with the world. My acrylic nails are the perfect wedge to pry open the stubborn ones. The process is kinda rough on the nail polish, but, hey, the end result is worth it.
We've even figured out how to use the little things you stick in the end of an ear of corn (a.k.a. corn forks) to open the ones that are still shut tight. No kernel goes un-et in our house.
I remembered that when I was younger, pistachios were red. Little girls would use them as pretend lipstick. Boys would get their fingers messy and wipe them on anything white (t-shirt, socks).
Pistachios are not naturally red. It turns out that importers used to dye them red to hide the stains on the shells that were caused when the nuts were picked by hand. Most pistachios are now picked by machine, negating the need to dye them. By the way, the U.S. is the second-largest producer of pistachios worldwide.
And they are not actually nuts.
Growing up in the South, one inevitably compares them to peanuts, which are legumes. Peanuts grow underground, sort of like a potato. Pistachios are actually seeds that come out of a "drupe." I simply had to know what a drupe was, so, of course, I consulted my eternal source of wisdom - Wikipedia.
Just dang, ya'll. A drupe is a fruit in which an outer flesh surrounds a shell (the pit or stone) of hardened innard with a seed inside. That means that I've been eating drupes all my life and didn't know it.
Coffee, mangoes, olives, dates, apricots, cherries, nectaries, plums, and you guessed it - peaches!!!
My fabulous Wikipedia goes on to explain that a bunch of little bitty drupes (called drupelets) include yummies like blackberries and raspberries.
Now in the South, it is also something of a derogatory term to call someone a fruit. You have to wonder what sort of connotation one would get from being called a drupe.
Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-service, networking organization in Henry County.