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Over Easy

By: Ruth Calvo Thursday August 28, 2014 3:51 am

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem

The community that began with Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner continues. Today we collect news from outside the usual, and renew the discussion.

An uneasy truce allowed Gaza residents to venture out onto battered streets to acquired supplies needed for their existence, as an Egyptian-brokered peace continued for an undefined period.

‘After 50 days of warfare in which a terror organization killed dozens of soldiers and civilians, destroyed the daily routine (and) placed the country in a state of economic distress … we could have expected much more than an announcement of a ceasefire,’ analyst Shimon Shiffer wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper.

‘We could have expected the prime minister to go to the President’s Residence and inform him of his decision to resign his post.’

Netanyahu, who has faced constant sniping in his cabinet from right-wing ministers demanding military action to topple Hamas, made no immediate comment on the Egyptian-mediated truce deal that took effect yesterday’s evening.

Forty years ago a Canadian town decided to give monetary support without strings to residents under a survivable level of income. That service is still paying dividends to this day.

The Dauphin experiment, like four others in the United States around the same time, was an attempt to measure if providing extra money directly to residents below a certain household income would be effective social policy.

Dauphin was unique among those studies in that all residents of the municipality and surrounding area, with a population of about 10,000, were eligible to participate if they met the criteria.

(snip)

Decades after the program ended, sociology professor Evelyn Forget dug up records from the period and found there were far-reaching benefits in the education and health sectors.

In a 2011 study she reported an 8.5 percent drop in hospital visits, a decrease in emergency room visits from car accidents and fewer recorded instances of domestic abuse. There was also a reduction in the number of people who sought treatment for mental health issues. And a greater proportion of high school students continued to the 12th grade.

As with U.S. experiments during the same period, there was no evidence that it led people to withdraw from the labor market, according to her research.

Promotion of a leading proponent of gender equality to the new cabinet as Education Minister evoked threats of demonstrations against the new minister from the right in France as the new government formed.

Vallaud-Belkacem, who was minister for women’s rights, youth and sport before becoming the first woman to take charge of the education portfolio, became a hate figure for the right when she backed an experimental reform introduced into 275 primary schools last year aimed at overcoming gender stereotyping. The minister was dubbed ‘Khmer Rose’ by the rightwing Le Figaro, and was accused of importing the controversial gender theory from the US.

Vallaud-Belkacem, 36, told FranceInfo radio that ‘pointless polemics’ would have no place in her ministry and that she was ‘committed to the equality of boys and girls more than anything else.’

Never.Give.Up.

 

Sunday Food: Mustard

By: Ruth Calvo Sunday August 24, 2014 3:33 am

 

Many faces of mustard

(Picture courtesy of Jessica Watkins at flickr.com.)

Some of us crave that bit of sour, spicy undertaste to go with our bread and fillings, cheese or meat or other sort, and I am among the ones that want it full of pickle lilt as well.   The name tells a bit of the story.

The English word “mustard” derives from the Anglo-Norman mustarde and Old French mostarde. The first element is ultimately from Latin mustum, (“must“, young wine) – the condiment was originally prepared by making the ground seeds into a paste with must. The second element comes also from Latin ardens, (hot, flaming). It is first attested in English in the late 13th century, though it is found as a surname a century earlier.[3]

Yellow or brown is the next choice, and if there’s a darker, browner one, especially with bits of the mustard seed in it, I’ll go in that direction. It’s bearable to use the yellow sort, but in my taste category that’s just baby food, I’m really happier with an earthier taste.

The most commonly used mustard in the United States and Canada is American Mustard sold as “Yellow mustard” (although most prepared mustards are yellow) and commonly referred to as just “mustard”. A very mild prepared mustard colored bright-yellow by turmeric, it was allegedly introduced in 1904 byGeorge J. French as “cream salad mustard”. American mustard is regularly used to top hot dogs, sandwiches, pretzels and hamburgers. It is also an ingredient of many potato saladsbarbecue sauces, and salad dressings.

(snip)

The mustard plant ingredient itself has a sharp, hot, pungent flavor.

Mixing ground mustard seeds with water causes a chemical reaction between two compounds in the seed: the enzyme myrosinase and various glucosinolates such as sinigrinmyrosin, andsinalbin. The myrosinase enzyme turns the glucosinolates into various isothiocyanate compounds known generally as mustard oil. The concentrations of different glucosinolates in mustard plant varieties, and the different isothiocyanates that are produced, make different flavors and intensities.

Prepared mustard condiment may also have ingredients giving salt, sour (vinegar), and sweet flavors. Turmeric is often added to commercially-prepared mustards, mainly to give them a yellow color.

The preparation in a preservative sort of liquid makes mustard durable, and it does not require refrigeration. Even if it dries out, an addition of wine, vinegar, or your choice of spike, makes it perk right up and spread again.  It has a history as medicinal, and the bite it adds feels right to us mustard spreaders.

At first, mustard was considered a medicinal plant rather than a culinary one. In the sixth century B.C., Greek scientist Pythagoras used mustard as a remedy for scorpion stings. One hundred years later, Hippocrates used mustard in a variety of medicines and poultices. Mustard plasters were applied to “cure” toothaches and a number of other ailments.

(snip)

Prepared mustard dates back thousands of years to the early Romans, who used to grind mustard seeds and mix them with wine into a paste not much different from the prepared mustards we know today.

Notice I have been partisan in my choice, and I admit it, I don’t like ketchup/ketsup at all. The bitter taste is one side of the table, in my experience, and that’s the side I choose.

French fries with vinegar is another choice, and I’ve been known to take along my own vinegar to make sure I have that instead of what seems to be the popular ketchup/ketsup. It’s the taste, a personal preference, and mustard also adds the bite of choice I’ve come to prefer.  It’s nice to see that they’re health food as well.

Mustard seeds are an excellent source of selenium and a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids and manganese. They are also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and vitamin B1.

The  taste for mustard in my experience doesn’t start early, and yes, I ate ketchup/ketsup as a kid, put it into meatloaf when I was cooking for kids, also. One view of the development of a more sour palate is that our health gets less robust as we age, which develops the taste for purified foods.   Go ahead, enjoy your own choice.  It’s a condiment and you want the most important aspect of your dining, enjoyment, to be the main consideration.

Saturday Art and Archaeology: Mayan Dedicatory Vessels

By: Ruth Calvo Saturday August 23, 2014 2:54 am

 

Reconstructed pottery in lab where work goes on.

Array of excavated pottery at Blue Creek lab.

Among the excavated items that form a large body of the pottery being studied from digging at Blue Creek, Belize, are the lip-to-lip vessels that occur in many of the temples now explored. These have revealed customs that played a part in the Maya society which ongoing archaeological science is ferreting out with its examination of the occurrence and content of the jars.

Intricate analysis of the vessels has been underway at the digs where I worked this July, and the content showed much about what the Maya celebrated and reverenced.  A published scientific article on the studies analyzes the contents, the nature of the offerings, and what concepts are embodied in the formation of the vessels which contain elements of sea at the bottom, earth in the middle, and sky in the upper portion.  It is scholarly in tone, and its content gives exciting views into the celebratory offering itself. The excerpt was difficult to transfer here, and at the end it is disjointed because of the impossibility of extracting whole sentences from the report, which itself you may want to read through.

Preclassic and Classic Maya peoples commonly placed dedicatory caches within the construction fill, commonly in the front of the building along the medial axis.  Maya archaeologists have long understood that such caches aided in dating construction events due to their primary context. Further, Maya archaeologists also have long understood that these caches represent the material residue of important dedication ceremonies [57]. An early examination of such caches was William Coe’s analysis of caches from the site of Piedras Negras [19]. Given the recent expansion of our understanding of Maya writing and religion, specifically in terms of how religious and cosmological concepts are embedded in architecture and site planning [1,44], attention has been turned to grappling with the meaning of these caches. Importantly, such caching events must be placed into the ritual context. The cache is not the event of interest, rather it is the ritual. The cache is simply our only existing material remains of the ritual.

(snip)

Maya archaeologists have long understood that such caches aided in dating construction events due to their primary context. Further, Maya archaeologists also have long understood that these caches represent the material residue of important dedication ceremonies [57]. An early examination of such caches was William Coe’s analysis of caches from the site of Piedras Negras [19]. Given the recent expansion of our understanding of Maya writing and religion, specifically in terms of how religious and cosmological concepts are embedded in architecture and site planning [1,44], attention has been turned to grappling with the meaning of these caches. Importantly, such caching events must be placed into the ritual context. The cache is not the event of interest, rather it is the ritual. The cache is simply our only existing material remains of the ritual.

(snip)

Until now, Maya archaeologists have been very restricted in their ability to interpret the meaning of such caches.  While their function in building dedication seems clear, their symbolic purposes are more obscure…embedding of sacredness in public architecture.  ..actions that gave “physical expression to the pipeline between humans and their gods” [46] or reflections of the cosmos and the act of embedding sacredness to public space [17,24,54].

Each dig brings up more witness to the customs and culture of the ancient Maya that they inculcated into their structures and the way they were conducted.

Intensive study shows us more constantly about the culture that produced the fascinating structures of Maya sites, and gives meaning to the life we are learning more about through these efforts.  The work is difficult, and requires deep analysis and enriches our lives with knowledge and the means of acquiring it.

Worked flake with common rock, daily task is sorting and categorizing

 

Over Easy

By: Ruth Calvo Thursday August 21, 2014 3:54 am

Over Easy

The community that began with Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner continues. Today we collect news from outside the usual, and renew the discussion.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch joined in a call for Israel to allow investigators into Gaza as deaths soared and charges multiplied of abuses there.

‘The Israeli authorities appear to have been playing bureaucratic games with us over access to Gaza, conditioning it on entirely unreasonable criteria even as the death toll mounts,’ Anne FitzGerald, Amnesty International’s director of Research and Crisis Response, said in the release.

At least 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 7. Over 10,000 Gazans have been injured and half a million internally displaced. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers have died in combat and three civilians have been killed by rocket attacks on Israeli cities. Both sides have been accused of violating the laws of war during the most deadly conflict between Israel and the occupied Gaza Strip since Hamas took power in 2007.

The rights groups said they want to send researchers into the territory to assess competing claims, and that Israel should not interfere with such independent investigations.

Journalist James Foley was beheaded in video released Wednesday, at the hands of a member of the militant group who spoke in the filmed event and is described by UK Foreign Secretary Hammond, who says he ‘appears to be British.’ Bombing of ISIS locations at Mosul dam continued yesterday.

Unconfirmed video and pictures of the photojournalist’s heartbreaking final moments emerged this morning via Twitter accounts claiming to be associated with the Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In what looked like a prepared statement, Foley called on his family to rise up against the US, who he calls his ‘real killers.’

‘I call on my friends, family, and loved ones to rise up against my real killers, the US government, for what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality,’ he said.

A failure of a U.S. mission to free the hostages was announced yesterday; ‘The U.S. military launched a secret mission this summer to rescue a number of Americans held captive in Syria by the Islamic State but failed to find them, senior Obama administration officials said Wednesday night.’

Comprehensive studies have been completed on Neanderthal remains that have given a picture of the primitive man coexisting with modern men for almost 5,000 years. Kit seems to have used this in his overnight post, as well, but you may have missed that, so I wanted to throw it in here so we can contemplate the ancient legends that might have been caused by coexisting with species different from the now dominant one.

Now an international team of researchers collected more than 400 samples from the most important sites in Europe. The samples were purified and analysed using state-of-the-art dating methods at Oxford University.

The results provide the clearest insight yet into the interaction between our ancestors and Neanderthals, when they first encountered each other and why the Neanderthals went extinct, according to the lead researcher, Prof Thomas Higham of the University of Oxford.

‘I think we can set aside the idea of a rapid extinction of Neanderthals caused solely by the arrival of modern humans. Instead we can see a more complex process in which there is a much longer overlap between the two populations where there could have been exchanges of ideas and culture.’

Four McDonalds restaurants have been shut down in Moscow in the name of consumer protection. Several are under ongoing investigation as well, in a burgeoning competition in sanctions.

‘Multiple violations of sanitary norms were detected in the sourcing of food and waste disposal in McDonald’s restaurants during inspections carried out between the 18th and 20th of August,’ said an official statement from the watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor.

The company has said that it will study the allegations against its franchises, and ‘will do everything to ensure that the restaurants open as soon as possible.’

‘McDonald’s main priority is offering its customers quality and safe produce,’ said a statement on the McDonald’s website.

Those golden arches will make an interesting addition to Putin’s trophy case, along with admirer Sarah Palin and the bears.

Never.Give.Up.

Things that go Stomp in the night

(Picture courtesy of Peachland Joe at flickr.com.)

Sunday Food; Corn Pudding

By: Ruth Calvo Sunday August 17, 2014 3:10 am

 

Corn pudding

(Picture courtesy of Joshua Bousel at flickr.com.)

This is the time of year when Sweet Corn sales are popping up along all the roads, and signs for that delicacy are on display at all the farm markets and grocery stores.   State and county fairs are everywhere, and booths selling corn are hard to avoid.  A post from last year dealt with the subject of the sweet corn itself.   This year we’ll move on to other ways to use it besides chowing down on the ears, themselves.

Fortunately, a recipe for corn pudding was a subject of a blog I like to visit last night, eschatonblog, so I pass it on to you.   Thanks go to fellow blogger Hecate for the favor of passing it on there.

 ingredients

  • 2 pounds frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • Whole milk as needed (about 1 cup)
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Chihuahua,* Monterey Jack, or Cheddar cheese
  • 1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • Half of a red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • *Chihuahua, a white cow’s-milk cheese, also known as asadero or Oaxaca cheese, becomes soft and stringy when heated and is therefore good for melting. An unaged Monterey Jack is a good substitute.

preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and set aside. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the corn with only enough milk to make a smooth puree, not to exceed 1 cup. With the machine running, add egg yolks, one at a time, and process 30 seconds after each addition. With the machine running, add the sugar a little at a time and continue processing until mixture is lighter in color and sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add butter and process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder; fold into corn mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into corn mixture, alternating with the shredded cheese. Pour into the prepared baking dish and garnish with strips of chile and red bell pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

When you are preparing the pudding, of course, the corn can be fresh just as easily as it can be frozen, at this time of year.   You may have a surplus of corn just begging to be used in any case.

(Picture courtesy of MBK at flickr.com.)

Roadside booths sell corn

Saturday Art and Archaeology: Blue Creek, Belize

By: Ruth Calvo Saturday August 16, 2014 3:16 am

 

Present appearance of formerly excavated Blue Creek Mayan temple.

Blue Creek Center,  close up of Mayan temple after being restored following excavation

Wall overlooking Ball Court at Blue Creek Center, returned to original condition, picture taken July 1, 2014

The findings at Blue Creek, Belize, have been the subject and background for my reports on archaeological findings of this summer.

The particular project that I worked with this summer, Maya Research Group, has been of major interest to many people I’ve talked with and it seems like the history and findings there would be a fitting object for this post.   Much of its story has been told in academic papers, and I will excerpt from a major one, ‘Scorpions, Wetlands and Jade, 20 Years of Research at Blue Creek, Belize’, here.

By the end of the Late Preclassic period (a.d.150–250) and through the Early Classic period(a.d. 250–600), Blue Creek became a wealthycity. We found a building (Structure 9) with a set of plaster masks of the image of an Early Classic ajaw or king, along with a unique set of dedicatory caches, which identified the site’s axis mundi  or symbolic central place. These included nearly 1,000 jade artifacts, the fourth largest collection of Maya jade ever found. More accurately known as jadeite and nephrite, these were prized in the Maya world and, like many naturally sourced products of great value, came from a restricted area and were available only to elite members of society. Other prestige goods have been found,including metamorphic grinding stones, obsidiantools, and sponges from the Caribbean, indicating that Blue Creek was considerably wealthier than other comparable cities.

Blue Creek’s wealth derived from two equally important factors. The frst was the availability of some of the richest and most extensive agricultural soils in Central America. Blue Creek encompassed an area of approximately 150 square kilometers, more than half of which was used for agriculture. This was simultaneously used for different agricultural practices, from small household gardens to the large-scale production of upland non-irrigation and lowland drained field farming. Blue Creek produced far more food than its population could consume. A wide variety of crops were grown, including kakaw (cacao) which was used as money.The second factor was its extraordinary access to trading markets. Blue Creek is at the headwaters of the Rio Hondo, the northernmost river draining into the Caribbean Sea, a three-day canoe trip. It was possible to export goods on canoes bound for cities in the north, which had lesser agricultural potential and a higher risk of crop failure. Blue Creek would have also been the final port of call for canoes traveling from the Caribbean en route to the interior. From here commodities were most likely conveyed overland to Petén sites such as Tikal and Uaxactún.

(snip)

By the end of the Classic Period, construction activities in the central precinct and adjacent residential areas, such as Kín Tan, came to an abrupt halt. Ultimately, the Terminal Classic is marked at Blue Creek by the abandonment and termination of sacred structures, both within the site core and within its most elite residences.

The director of the program and author of this report, Dr. Thomas Guderjan, explained that findings at Blue Creek Center showed that termination included massive broken pottery and sealing off of the occupied parts of the temples.   An article entitled ‘Blue Creek; Rise and Fall of a Maya Center’, he describes the findings.

By the Terminal Classic, Blue Creek’s political structure had been dramatically and negatively transformed. Construction activities within the site core and adjacent residential areas, such as Kin Tan, had come to an abrupt halt. Ultimately, the Terminal Classic is marked by the abandonment and termination of sacred structures – both within the site core and within its most elite residences.

In the central precinct, large quantities of broken ceramics and other portable goods were deposited on the front of a shrine associated with Structure 3. This represents the final cultural event within the site core and the central precinct was subsequently abandoned.

During this same period, large deposits of broken ceramics and broken portable objects such as manos, metates, obsidian blades, and bifaces were deposited against the baseline of buildings within the Structure 13 Courtyard. In addition, smaller terminal deposits have been recovered from the Structure 19 Courtyard.  Again, these deposits mark the final cultural event within these palace complexes and these groups too were subsequently abandoned.

The symbol or logo of the Maya Research Program is a Mayan mask which was excavated at the original Blue Creek dig, and described with its surroundings below;

The facade of the outset is adorned with a complex five paneled, deep relief stucco frieze which included at least two and probably three anthropomorphic masks. Two of these are in excellent condition but the left face has been destroyed. Despite their Early Classic style, these were originally dated these to the Late Classic based on confusing ceramics from an associated cache and argued that this was an archaizing trait (Grube, et al. 1995). However, after the 1995 season, it was recognized that this was not correct and that these masks actually date to the Early Classic period.

Both faces have chin straps or bib motifs. The center image has closed eyes, hollowed cheeks, a slack jaw and a protruding tongue. The face is wearing an elaborate head-dress decorated with volutes shaped like an Ahaw glyph. The volutes represent smoke or foliation and may be the Early Classic form of the phonetic symbol ya (Thompson’s T126) Grube (1990) has shown the Ahaw sign, when not used as a day sign, is a logogram for the word nik or “flower”. This was interpreted as marking the building as a nikteil na or “flower house” (Grube, et al. 1995). These are specific houses for dancing and counsels (Freidel, et al. 1993: 257-263) and may have also served as accession houses for rulers.

Another element of the stucco facade supports this interpretation as well. A single glyph is located above the recessed panel between the two masks. This is interpreted as representing a sky or earth band with the phonetic value ki, meaning “heart” or “center” (Grube, et al. 1995). This glyph may represent the axis mundi (Grube et al. 1995), which Freidel (1992:127) associates with Ahaw (kingship) and political authority.

The presence of a nikteil na at Blue Creek is strong evidence that the community was ruled by an independent, local royal lineage.

The Blue Creek Center has been returned to the state in which it was found, and its treasures have been made available to the Belizian government for display and research.

 

Work site at IX’Noha, present activity of Maya Resarch Program

 

Over Easy

By: Ruth Calvo Thursday August 14, 2014 3:53 am

Over Easy

The community that began with Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner continues. Today we collect news from outside the usual, and renew the discussion.

Despite rocket fire that broke a 72 hour ceasefire, all sides agreed to an extension proposed to last for five more days of truce and peace talks in embattled Gaza.

Hamas, the Islamist organisation in power in Gaza, denied they had launched rockets, however, and shortly before midnight Palestinian delegates in Cairo announced the extension.

‘There will be a five-day ceasefire to give more opportunity for negotiation,’ Gamal Shobky, the Palestinian ambassador in Cairo, told the Guardian. ‘We are very close but there are still some things to resolve.’

The news will be welcomed in Gaza, battered by a month-long conflict which inflicted massive damage on infrastructure and housing, as well as killing nearly 2,000 people, mostly civilians. Sixty four Israeli soldiers died, and three civilians in Israel were killed by rocket fire.

As Mt. Sinjar emptied of persecuted minorities chased there by ISIS, the international community sought to change premiers as one step toward less volatile conditions.

The White House on Wednesday urged Iraqi leader Nuri al-Maliki to step aside and allow the man nominated to become his successor as prime minister to form a government.

‘He needs to respect that process,’ Rhodes told reporters. ‘This is what the Iraqis themselves have decided to do.’

President Barack Obama on Monday threw his weight behind the choice of Haidar al-Abadi to form a new government, appealing to Maliki, without directly naming him, to peacefully turn over power.

‘The White House will be very glad to see a new government in place with prime minister Abadi at the lead of that government,’ Rhodes said.

Mexico awarded 83% of its oil resources to national oil firm Pemex as a move toward reorganization and revitalization of its energy industry, enabled by an amendment to the constitution which required state ownership of resources.

Mexico enacted new rules this week to open up the country’s energy sector.

Private oil companies are now allowed to operate in the country for the first time in 76 years.

The next round of bidding will see private oil firms vie for the remaining 79% of possible reserves.

(snip)

The hope is that the changes in the energy sector will boost production back to 2004 levels by 2025.

Crumbling infrastructure, bureaucracy and corruption have pared Mexican production from 3.6 million barrels a day in 2004 to just 2.5 million.

The first woman to be awarded the Fields Medal, mathematics’ equivalent of the Nobel, is an Iranian professor at Stanford, Maryam Mirzakhani, awarded the medal for her work in understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces.

‘This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians,’ Mirzakhani was quoted as saying on Stanford’s website.

‘I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years,’ she said.

Mirzakhani, 37, was born in Tehran and lived there until she began her doctorate work at Harvard University. She said she dreamed of becoming a writer when she was young, but she pursued her love of solving mathematical problems.

‘It is fun. It’s like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case. I felt that this was something I could do, and I wanted to pursue this path.’ she said.

Never.Give.Up.

Sunday Food: Cashews

By: Ruth Calvo Sunday August 10, 2014 3:35 am

 

Cashew nuts

(Picture courtesy of Choo Yut Shing at flickr.com)

One of the nuts that is grown in Central America and has been familiarized in this country along with its diminishing costs is the cashew nut. A tree nut, it is rich in antioxidants, quite healthy and nutritious.  It is one of the most distinct tastes among nuts, in my opinion, and I’m really glad to have it readily available.  However, I understand that the cultivation of cashews has been a problem in the countries where it is grown.  Originating in Brazil, the tree has been dispersed into tropical areas throughout the world, and now is farmed in India and Asian countries as well.

The cashew apple, also called cashew fruit, is the fleshy part of the cashew fruit that is attached to the cashew nut. The top end of the cashew apple is attached to the stem that comes off the tree. The bottom end of the cashew apple attaches to the cashew nut, which is encased in a shell. In botanical terms, the cashew apple is an accessory fruit that grows on the cashew seed (which is the nut).

The cashew apple is a soft fruit, rich in nutrients, and contains five times more vitamin C than an orange. It is eaten fresh, cooked in curries, or fermented into vinegar, as well as an alcoholic drink. It is also used to make preserves, chutneys, and jams in some countries such as India and Brazil. In many countries, particularly in South America, the cashew apple is used to flavor drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic. In Brazil, it is a popular fruit flavor for the national drink, the caipirinha.

In much of South America, people regard the cashew apple as the delicacy, rather than the nut kernel which is popular elsewhere. In fact, in many South American countries, the cashew apple is more popular as a food than is the cashew nut. A large reason for this is simply the availability of cashew apples. They tend to be popular where they are readily available.

Cashew nuts are more popular than cashew apples in many parts of the world—regions that do not grow cashews—because the fruit, unlike the nut, is difficult to transport to these places. Unlike cashew nuts, cashew apples are extremely soft and easily bruised in shipment. For this reason, cashew juice and cashew juice concentrate are often shipped to these nonlocal countries instead of the fresh fruit.

(snip)

Fluctuations in world market prices for cashew nuts have been a source of discontent for communities in Tanzania which grow the nut as a cash crop; reduced payments in April 2013 sparked serious rioting in Liwale District in the south of the country.

As usual, industrial farming is not the best of answers to our needs, and individuals appear to do a better, more healthy, job of growing our food supplies.

(Picture courtesy of abcdz2000 at flickr.com.)

Cashew apple, with fruit.