Seventeen years in America and I am still learning. I suppose it makes sense, considering that I am Nigerian, and I am still learning about my own country. Still, it’s fascinating. So, the other day, I discovered something about my dear Americans. We won’t call it scientific research, but I think it counts for something.
I love cashew nuts – thanks to my dad who always treats it like gold. So the other day, I had a bag of cashew nuts that I shared with Karyn, my American friend. Somehow we got talking about cashew nuts and where they come from, and that was when I found out that Karyn did not know where cashew nuts came from. She was beside herself when she googled a picture of a cashew fruit. It was as if I had just told her that beef comes from a chicken (and that chicken is really fish).
Before we had this conversation, she had just previously never thought about cashew nuts and their origin. You go to the store and you see cashew nuts in a bag or in a canister and you purchase it, and you never stop to wonder where it came from. She and I were equally stunned. She was stunned at the origin of the nuts, and I was stunned that she did not know the origin of the nuts.
So, out of curiosity, I asked more Americans – four more, to be precise — and not one person knew where the cashew nuts came from. Everyone was astonished when they saw the cashew tree and fruit, and I had to answer questions like, “So this thing at the bottom is the cashew nut?” and “How do you cook it?” and “What do you do with the fruit?”
It was a moment of enlightenment for everyone. Speaking of my American friends, some of them – specifically Karyn and Gail – have decided that I am not American enough and they need to Americanize me a bit. They came to this conclusion when they found out that I had never eaten mac and cheese and never been to Cracker Barrel which is apparently a very American thing to do. Oh, and I have never been to Waffle House either, and I have never had the waffle and chicken combination (not necessarily from Waffle House). So yes, I need to become more American.
I’m looking forward to becoming more American, but until then, I plan on making my American friends …. should we say less American? For my next project, I should ask if people know what yams are or how they grow. Or maybe I should discuss what plantain is or isn’t. FYI: Plantains are not bananas.
But back to the cashew nuts issue, it honestly took me years before I started to wonder why every fruit was available in America all year round. In Nigeria, for example, you won’t find corn when it isn’t corn season. In America, on the other hand, every food seems to be available all year round. There are times of the year when certain foods and fruits become more expensive, but they are never completely unavailable.
Americans are spoiled. And it’s not a completely bad thing. I think.