We left Chiang Mai for the Thai border, driving through stunning paddy fields with huge, almost vertical hills in the distance. After (enough) hours on the road we stopped for a pit stop and, grabbing our own supplies of loo paper, prepared ourselves for another great loo ‘experience.’ But – thankfully – this was no ordinary service station..
All around, there were hundreds of cashew trees and there, lying on the forecourt, were thousands of lazy cashew nuts in their plump brown shells, drying in the sun. Our guide explained that these had been carefully removed from ther orange/ yellow fruit they dangle from as the fruit itself contains an irritant which burns skin.
They are then left to dry in their shells and later carefully removed with a small guillotine-type thing. There is a black substance around the actual nut which is – again – bad news to touch so the nuts are painstakingly removed by gloved hands and cleaned off. They are then roasted, twice, for 10 hours at a time. A hugely long and cumbersome process – I felt very sorry for the poor little ladies (still no men) sitting on kindegarten-height stools, with elbow length gloves and masks for days at a time.
Thank goodness the final product is counted as a delicacy, even out here – learnt the hard way when ordering chicken stir fry with cashew and only getting 1 cashew. Better to order cashew with chicken..
You could not imagine the number of different flavourings they put on cashews in that awesome little place. Coconut, lemon grass, coffee, butter etc etc. I walked away with a packet of black sesame covered ones – much more satifying on a long motorway than haribo.