Friday, February 26, 2010

Sometimes you feel like a nut....

February 26th is National Pistachio Day. I think that I might have found a new favorite meaningless food holiday. Pistachios are fantastic. In fact, if you wanted to set a trap for me I would recommend that you use pistachio ice cream as bait. Even with the jaws of a bear trap clasped firmly to my ankle I’d lick the carton clean. I’m not alone in my love of pistachios. Historically pistachios were decreed a royal food by the Queen of Sheeba, they were grown in Nebuchadnezzar legendary hanging gardens, and prized by Roman Emperor Vitellius. Pistachios have been valued as folk remedies for various illnesses and are traditional party favors at weddings in Syria.

But what is a pistachio? A nut you say? Actually it is not a true nut, but a fruit. It is, in fact, a member of the same family as poison ivy. Maybe that is why I itch for the flavor so much. When the pistachio fruit ripens the shell cracks open and you can hear it pop. In parts of the Middle East folklore says that lovers who hear the nuts crack open on a full moon will eventually marry. I don’t know about that, but meeting a lover under the branches of a pistachio tree sounds like a romantic evening to me.

The pistachio has even found a place for itself in the pages of behavioral science. James Painter a behavioral eating expert came up with the Pistachio Principle. In a nut shell (or should I say fruit shell) the Pistachio Principle states “that eating in-shell pistachios helped individuals eat fewer calories without consciously restricting their calories. Compared to shelled nuts, those who enjoyed in-shell pistachios not only ate 50 percent fewer calories, but they also reported feeling equally satisfied.”

I don’t know about you… but for National Pistachio day I plan to ignore the Pistachio Principle. The hell with deluding myself into self restraint by cracking open the nuts slowly. I plan on cracking open a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio ice cream and eating it all. I might even lick the lid!

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