The question wasn't directed at me, but I responded anyway. "I'll try one," I said, palm open as I walked towards Grace, a woman whose name I learned only after she handed me a fresh-from-the-tree pistachio. Though I'd eaten pistachios for decades, this was the first time I cradled one still in its pod, and I felt a little protective of it, as though it were alive.
The outer casing was tender, rubbery. I pierced it with my thumbnail, a gentle act that nonetheless cleaved it in two, causing the skin to slacken and unfurl. Inside -- now the middle layer -- sat the hard, familiar clam-shaped shell, which I unhinged with a snap. And there it was, the prize: barely green, with rosy cheeks, the nutmeat blushed, like I'd caught it in an act of transgression.
I handed Grace a few bucks, thanked her for the experience and the education, and took a small bag of fresh pistachios home from my local market. Then I slit, unfurled, unhinged, and popped them into my mouth, one after another after another. Their flavor was subtle, their crunch, muted, because they hadn't yet been salted or roasted, which is how they're nearly always sold in stores.
And then they were gone, and all that was left was a tower of spent husks and shells, and a dusty mess to wipe clean and erase.
And then I thought, I need to get out more. I need to go where the pistachio trees grow, and pluck one from its gnarly branch myself. I need to visit an avocado orchard. I need to sit under a Cretian olive tree. I need slurp noodles in Japan and eat felafel in Israel. I need to go to Morocco, and wander aimlessly through a spice market and eat couscous and tagine and b'stilla. I need to get to India. Argentina. Singapore. Laos.
Who's with me?