Thursday, August 20, 2009

Forbidden Fruit

Back in May, I got an email from my food lovin' Japan livin' cousin Zack. The subject read "Urgent: Please Eat Cashew Apples." We were in Bolivia at the time and there were no cashew apples to be found but we told him we'd keep our eye out for them.

Flash forward to Natal, Brazil, home of the world's largest cashew tree. One morning at breakfast, Temple was perusing the fruit bowl and came across an odd looking fruit. Holding it up to show everyone, I quickly realized that it was the cashew apple we'd been looking for. The apple part looked more like a red bell pepper and the skin was very tender. I ran back to the room to get the camera so I could show Zack our discovery. I took some nice still lifes and left it safely in the fruit basket.

Later that day I saw Zack online and told him we'd found the cashew apple. His first question was, "What does it taste like?" I ran downstairs to ask the guys in the kitchen if the apple was still there. It was. Then I asked them if it was safe to eat. Smiling, they said yes. I went back to the room so we could fully document the event for Zack. I first bit the apple part, it was very juicy and tasted like peppery apple juice. Not wanting to hog the deliciousness, I shared it with Temple.

After we had our fill of the odd flavored juice we turned our attention to the nut on top. Temple tried to pull it off but couldn't. Then I tried to bite it off. As I did, the protective oil from the cashew nut got all over my lips and they began to tingle. Suddenly, I recalled a description of the raw cashew nut. The oil is the same as is found in poison ivy. Pretty soon the tingle turned into a burning. I quickly chugged 2 liters of water. I went back down to the kitchen to ask them what was happening. They were all laughing as I told them my mouth was on fire. Nicely, they cut up some bread for me to chew on. The bread helped the pain but my lips were swollen and white. Soon the top layer of my lip skin would begin to peel off. A few days later, a rash appeared on my left hand, swelling my fingers so that you couldn't see my knuckles, while my eyes also started to puff up.

Two weeks after eating the cashew apple my lips and fingers are back to normal. If you ever find yourself in front of a fruit basket with a funny looking apple with a nut on top, please roast the cashew to neutralize the poison before eating.


Addie said...

Yall will eat least you saved Zack the pain-I think he's the only other one who'd eat that...well maybe Hud. Love you. Sorry about your lips. Some people pay lots of money for that.

Waru said...

dang, sorry I got your lips, finger, and eyes swolled up. But thanks for finding and trying it! That was a pretty cruel joke on their part, though.

I'm trying to imagine a juicy, tender fruit that tastes like peppery apple juice. It looks like bell pepper but more fleshy and not hollow.

Anyway, that was exciting to hear about! Thanks.