Part one of three looks at the pistachio nut’s luxurious beginning
Stephen Arnold of Gourmet De Ville takes readers on an amazing journey following the delicious pistachio in his first installment of a 3-part article titled, “Pistachios: A Luxury Food for Centuries”. Arnold’s journey begins on the Ancient Silk Road where travelers carried pistachios as the first trail-mix because of its high nutrient content.
“Pistachios were the first trail mix. Rich in Vitamin E, the nut contains mono-unsaturated fatty acids, like oleic acid, and are a good source of antioxidants. The nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins. A handful of nuts contains about 400 calories.”
Interestingly enough, evidence of pistachio consumption has been found on the Silk Road. 4500 BCE Persia was known as the premier producer of pistachios as the demand for the nutty treat was high for upper-class society. The upper-class of the Roman Empire enjoyed pistachio nuts as a symbol of, “refined taste, wealth and high status”. Pistachios, according to Arnold are also mentioned in the Christian Bible (Genesis 4:13) and are said to have been enjoyed as snacks by people of the stone-age.
Pistachios have proven to be a labor intensive nut including tricky harvesting and very precise drying times that can result in an awful taste and short shelf life if one misstep is made. The ending product can be a red or green shell that splits naturally when dried properly.
Lovers of this little green nut include the high & mighty like the Queen of Sheba, Alexander the Great who according to Arnold, “toted pistachios as he conquered Persia”, Lucius Vitellius, Nero and Tiberius who, “favored chicken with pistachios”.