In Praise of Mixed Nuts

by Seth Rogovoy


I like mixed nuts. I don’t know how they do it, but someone has figured out the perfect ratio of different kinds of nuts – the best-tasting proportion of Brazil nuts to filberts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, and peanuts (technically not a tree nut but a legume). I love blindly reaching into a bowl of mixed nuts and coming up with a delightful, satisfying blend of varying flavors, textures, shapes, and sizes.

It’s just so much fun to eat mixed nuts. Every handful contains a surprise. It’s the gift that keeps giving – modest in its culinary profile, yet so perfect as a healthy snack food when eaten in moderation. Studies claim that those availing themselves of a daily portion of mixed nuts are less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illness. A few handfuls of mixed nuts a half-hour or so before dinner help stave off the kind of hunger that leads one to overeat. A bowl of mixed nuts is also a kind of miniature United Nations: cashews from India, filberts from Canada, almonds from Italy, walnuts from China, and – get this — Brazil nuts, which are not from Brazil but primarily from Bolivia.

As in all things, when it comes to mixed nuts, there are two kinds of people in the world: the angels, like me, who appreciate the thought and care that went into preparing the well-balanced nut mix; and the devils, those who cherry-pick the mixture, rooting around in it for a specific kind of nut, totally missing the point of the well-designed mix, to say nothing of ruining it for everyone else.

Alas, I have been afflicted my entire life with cherry-pickers: those who eat the scarcer nuts like the Brazils and the sweeter nuts like the cashews, thereby destabilizing the proportions that someone went to great lengths to come up with in pursuit of the Platonic ideal of a nut mix. Friends, girlfriends, wives, children – they’ve all had little to no respect for the well-made mix. No matter how many times I explain about the joys of the mixture, no matter how many times I suggest that if they want cashews or pecans they should just get a can of cashews or a can of pecans and leave my mixed nuts alone, they still eat all the almonds or cashews. In some cases, I’ve had to resort to hiding my nuts from the anti-mixers, who are probably also anti-vaxxers and certainly antifa.

It is this sort of thing that brings our civilization one step closer to anarchy. If cherry-picking a bowl of mixed nuts is no longer considered to be an offense, what’s next? Licking the icing off the entire cake and leaving everyone else with plain, dry cake? Picking all the black olives and anchovies off a pizza with black olives and anchovies?

We cannot allow nor can we normalize this abnormal behavior. It was bad enough when Jimmy Carter said it was OK to turn right on red, thereby once and for all depriving the red light of its ultimate authority – practically turning it into a mere palimpsest of a yellow light. And I’ve seen quite a few left-on-red turns in my day, too. No one ever would have thought of doing that if red still meant stop instead of stop, maybe, except when no one’s around and you think you can safely make the turn.

The whole point of the red light was because we could not and cannot trust individuals to make the subjective judgment of when it’s safe to speed through an intersection. Instead, we opted for the efficiency of automation in all its glorious objectivity over the vast differences in judgment, skill, and emotional calculations among drivers. Just like the automated perfection of mixed nuts.

And then there’s my favorite Greek olive mix, but I can’t even go there….









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