I took one look at this reddish "thing" and wondered, firstly, what was crawling out of it, and secondly, what was the crawling thing coming out of? I'd just never seen anything quite like this, and without knowing those two facts, it seemed awfully creepy to me.
Pity the poor dummy (me!) Maybe everyone else in the world knows this, but I didn't. Lo, it was nothing more than a cashew in disguise. Who would'a thought?
Cashew nuts grow on trees, of course, and this is what they look like while they are growing. Each nut hangs at the bottom of what is called a Cashew Fruit. Wikipedia can tell it better than I can:
The fruit of the cashew tree is an accessory fruit (sometimes called a pseudocarp or false fruit). What appears to be the fruit is an oval or pear-shaped structure that develops from the pedicel and the receptacle of the cashew flower. Called the cashew apple, better known in Central America as "marañón", it ripens into a yellow and/or red structure about 5–11 cm long. It is edible, and has a strong "sweet" smell and a sweet taste. The pulp of the cashew apple is very juicy, but the skin is fragile, making it unsuitable for transport.Once I got past knowing that this horrible looking thing at the bottom of each "fruit" isn't alive, in the crawling sense of the word, then I could see that it did, in fact, in its little covering have the exact shape of those wonderful cashews that I love to eat.
The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the cashew apple. The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the pedicel expands into the cashew apple. Within the true fruit is a single seed, the cashew nut. Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the nut of the cashew is a seed.
Wikipedia also talks about about the cashew "apple" being mostly utilized for making a fermented drink, which in various forms is called either feni, gongo, or "agua ardente" (translated in Mozambique as burning water.)
When I saw how much space it took to produce one little cashew nut, it occurred to me that the Cashew tree needed to be mighty big to produce even a small bag of cashews like I buy occasionally. And although I know they are expensive, it seemed to me that to get as many cashews as a harvester would need to make a profit, they should cost a whole lot more than they do. But of course I'm not suggesting that prices be raised.
What I did find, though, was that cashew nut trees are mammoth things and probably produce plenty of nuts for the owner, so I struck that thought off my list of things to worry about.
I can't remember how I happened to get tangled up in the internet looking at cashew nuts. I was looking for something entirely different, and as usual I got sidetracked. And I just had to share this with you, so you'd know as much as I do now about the yummy cashew nut.