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August 31, 2005



Or filberts, call them what you will because either word is just perfect.

FunFact: The filbert bush blooms on St. Filbert's day and the name "filbert," originally a local term for the plant in the Mediterranean region where it flourishes, was extended to the nut.

It is my favorite nut out of all the nuts I have ever tasted.

This was nut the case when I was a boy: back then I preferred the assertiveness and familiarity of peanuts, especially in the setting of a ballpark.

But as I grew older the subtle taste and wonderfully supple mouthfeel of the filbert gradually grew on me to the point where I now pick them out of the mixed nuts first, ahead of even the pecans.

That's saying something.

My attention was drawn to hazelnuts last week when I read an article by Haig Simonian in the August 25 Financial Times.

He wrote that the price of hazelnuts has increased 500% in the past two years, with no end in sight.

What's going on here?

Said Rosanno Barbieri, a buyer for Nestlé, "I visit growers many times each year. But in all my career I've never seen anything like what's happening to hazelnuts."

Wrote Simonian, "Hazelnut production is relatively small and intensely concentrated. Turkey accounts for 80%–85% of the world's annual 700,000–900,000 ton harvest. Neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan make up the difference, along with Italy and Oregon."

Sounds like they could get a cartel going in a hurry, what?

Call it NutPec or something. But I digress.

Simonian noted that the hazelnut crops vary markedly in their quality, making futures contracts useless.

"Size and moisture levels can significantly alter a nut's taste."

In addition, the nuts do not keep.

I like everything about these wonderful nuts.

Their rich, burnished, coppery color; their shape, so elegant and fluidly curving; the sharp sound they make when they're cracked: everything about them is a pleasure.

Delicately separating the thin brown husk from the nut after cracking them open is a labor of love.

Jeez, where can I get some?


A note on a bit of internet arbitrage I've run across lately:

You will note, should you click on the link to the FT story, that what you get is not the story as it originally appeared online but, rather, one with all sorts of funny stuff and words highlighted in colors and suchlike.

This is because the FT, like many publications, buries its articles behind a subscription–only barrier like this.

But they haven't yet figured out, unlike the New York Times and other more disciplined and web–savvy organizations, that they have to hide the Google–cached version too if they want to prevent hoi polloi from accessing their article for free.

So anytime you find you can't get at something you'd like to see online, try clicking on the "cached" link below the Google search result: you'll be pleasantly surprised at how often it works.

Once in a while the crack — stop, hey, what's that sound, everybody look, nutshells abound... but I digress — research team persuades me to share some of our hard–won search expertise.

This was one of those times.

August 31, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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