Hee hee. This title makes me giggle. I love it for what it could imply. Sadly though, I am not writing about the crazy Germans. I’m still collecting material for that topic. No, I’m writing about nuts. The kind you mix into granola and cookies, serve at parties in funny little bowls, and eat for their high protein content.
I’ve discovered that the nut situation here is not what it is in the US. First of all, there was the seemingly endless search for pure and simple peanut butter. Then there was the sad realization that nuts and dried fruit are an undesired combination in the granola/cereal aisle. Now it’s starting to dawn on me that the hazelnut is to Germans what the peanut is to Americans – anything that has “nuts” in it will almost certainly have hazelnuts. While I wasn’t ever so crazy about peanuts that I kept them around the house for snacking on (I’m more of an almond girl), I really can’t seem to fall in love with the hazelnut.
To me, it’s flavor is a bit too violent in the mouth. It starts with a hint of sweet but ends on a bitter note (I think that thin dark skin is to blame). And as far as mouth feel goes, it seems to be a very dry nut, kind of sticky once you get chewing.
Don’t get me wrong though. I love hazelnuts inside of things – finely ground into Christmas cookies, ribboned into chocolatey spreads, blended into ice cream. The problem with these things is that they kind of defeat the healthy purpose of the nut.
In an attempt to appreciate the ‘German peanut,’ I’ve decided to learn a little more about the hazelnut. Shells of hazelnuts dating back to 7000 BC were found on a Scottish island. Most of the hazelnuts eaten in Germany (and the world) now come from Turkey. The hazelnut is an actual nut; it’s the kernel of the seed of the hazel tree. (In contrast, peanuts are legumes – they grow underground.) Hazelnuts are, of course, rich in protein and unsaturated fat (like most nuts), but they also have high levels of vitamin E, thiamine, and vitamin B6. Did you know there is a Hazelnut Marketing Board, established in 1949 to help with the hazelnut’s popularity in the US? I didn’t either.
I’m not sold yet, and my love of peanut butter isn’t changing anytime soon. Cool factoid of the day – peanut butter was used to keep people alive on expeditions to the South Pole. I knew there was a good reason for it being my power food of choice!