Fuzzy wuzzy was an immature nut

I feel silly for not knowing that almonds are not nuts until now. They tend to be marketed as nuts, included in nut mixes, and they're dead smack in the eye of the nut milk market maelstrom. But I was duped, because they're a drupe. That's a fruit wherein flesh grows around a shell (what we think of as a pit) that contains a seed. Cherries, peaches and plums are drupes, and we just happen to eat the sweet part and discard the pit. Walnuts are drupes in the reverse; you can indeed use the external flesh to make nocino—an Italian-style liqueur—or some inky-dark pickles and chutneys, but it's a heck of a lot of work. (Pecans are drupes, but no one bothers.)

The reason I bring all of this up is that my favorite specialty store, Kalustyan's, had a big box full of fuzzy-wuzzy green mystery pods up at the register the last time I came in, and I found myself physically unable to resist buying some. Very little on this planet thrills me more than micro-seasonal produce and that goes double if it's spring-specific. (Think fiddlehead ferns, garlic scapes, pea shoots, morels, and yes of course ramps.) When they're gone, they're gone, and there's no begging, borrowing, or stealing more. So of course I bought the green almonds.

Photo by Kat Kinsman

Per the printout taped to the cardboard box in which they were heaped, green almonds are simply "immature" almonds that are to be eaten whole, or deployed into salads or as garnishes. They are touted to possess a taste "like a very crunchy raw green bean with a real nice tangy flavor when you bite into the soft middle of it." Highly accurate! But the green almond liner notes neglected to mention one visceral hurdle that might put some sensitive eaters off to the degree that they might wish to lop off their own tongue: They're fuzzy like a peach, and the act of putting one in your mouth to eat whole feels a tiny bit like chomping down on a newborn mouse, but if you're cool with that, you're in for a sensory thrill. The flavor is intensely vegetal and tart, like it's been pre-pickled, and texture freaks like me can get their ya-yas out bigtime with the crispness. You can eat them solo, or pop them into a salad, or blend them into a kooky little pesto. Seek them out at farmers markets, specialty food shops, and super-bougie grocery stores.

Are they a life-changing taste sensation that you'll pine for throughout the mature almond months? Probably not, but that's OK. There is particular pleasure in the enjoyment of produce that the planet belches forth annually and briefly. It makes me feel in harmony with nature in a world where the climate is seemingly in violent flux. It's a small thing, but it makes me feel just a little less nuts.

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