While rummaging through our pantry the other day, I came across a bag of Pistachios. It was a 3 lb bag from Costco and we had consumed about half its contents. The presence of the bag had obviously been forgotten and it was lying hidden behind some boxes. The contents had turned rancid and I threw the bag in the trash can. It bothered me though. It bothered me that I was taking for granted something that at one point in time, was considered to be so precious. You see, growing up in India during the 70s and 80s, dry fruits were expensive and were treasured. Dry fruits were either imported or had to brought down from North India. My maternal great-grandfather had a dry fruit business in the 1930’s. He brought dry fruit from Peshawar on the North-Western fringe of an undivided India and sold it in South Kanara. My mother recalls that her aunt’s wedding featured a dry-fruit sabzi (stir-fry) which must have been something! I remember eating walnuts and figs for the first time when my grandmother brought some home from a trip to Kashmir in 1974 or so.
Pistachios (Pista) were a rare commodity. My mother’s aunt would bring a small tin for us once in a while when she returned from a trip to Abu Dhabi. The tin was stored under lock and key in the ubiquitous Godrej almirah which is found in every Indian household. Once in a way, actually once in a blue moon, as we sat in our living room after dinner, my dad would request my mom to bring the tin out. My ears would perk up and I would wait in anticipation. My mother would bring the tin, my dad would carefully count out a few pistachios and share them with us. We would sit in silence, removing the shells and enjoying the salty nut contained therein. After all the pistachios were eaten, I would lick the shells, they were salty! The shells would then be used along with firewood when we heated water for our bath. As you can tell, those pistachios were really treasured and not a bit was wasted. And here I was, throwing away a few years supply of pistachios in the trash!