Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Nut of the Pasania Tree

This morning Pippi and I picked up an interesting kernel of wisdom. While playing ball in Arisugawa Park, a forager began encroaching on our arena. At first I thought the man was one of the many ginkgo nut seekers who come out in masses this time of year. But he was not wearing the telltale white gloves needed to protect the hands from the ginkgo's dreadful smell. So we went up and asked what he was searching for. In response, he extracted this handful of nuts from the pocket of his blue windbreaker.

Not to be confused with garden variety acorns, each shell contains an edible nut. To prove his point, the man peeled off the thin shell with his thumbnail and held out the raw kernel for me to taste. It looked like a peanut. Against my better judgement -- this was probably a pretty stupid thing to do -- I popped it in my mouth and began to chew. He didn't really seem like a crazy person. The taste was surprisingly sweet and toothsome. My new friend then instructed me to take some home and roast them in a fry pan with a sprinkle of salt. Don't think we'll be going there but nice to know we could find food if we ever get lost in a forest.

The leaf of the Pasania tree.

Apparently, the Pasania, aka Lithocarpus, is part of the beech genus. This species is probably native to Asia but may be related to the Tanoak that grows in California and Oregon.

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