Nuts, Nutcrackers & Childhood Memories
My earliest memory of nuts is my Ammamma (grandmother) telling my cousins and me (in our first few years of schooling) that the first thing we eat every morning has to be 3-4 nuts. She did start with Almonds but given the preferences and likings that were posed to her by her 5 grandchildren - she settled for whatever we were willing to eat.
There were two very distinct groups between us cousins - one chose almonds that were soaked in water and hence easy to skin, the other vehemently stuck to cashew nuts. The only thing that would bring all 5 of us together was pistachios, but those were only for special occasions.
Many years later when Ammamma departed, the kitchen held a majority of our memories with her, of course. Each a different tale with a different food item but her kindness, her happiness to have us never changed. We found ourselves looking at containers of nuts in a way that none of us imagined possible.
One of those days we discovered a nutcracker. Just staring at this wooden player with blades, the 5 of us wondered how we had never seen this tool before! We made multiple discoveries after finding that nutcracker. Ammamma used it to crack walnuts or pistachios early in the morning for our grandfather. She also used it for shredding betel nuts for the workers who did jobs around the house, but here’s the catch. They weren’t allowed to consume more than what she gave them - for the sake of their health. That’s a typical Ammamma thing to do - gave us a good giggle.
Memories of a loved one become so much more powerful when they are associated with food. I’ve always found that beautiful. She’s been gone over a decade and yet, anytime we have any nut - irrespective of the form - be it on cakes, roasted or salted or just as is, we think of her. So that’s the story of 5 kids who were nuts about nuts and their loving grandmother with her trusted nutcracker!