I thought I’d turn my eye to something important today, the pleasure of shelling a pistachio. The reason this topic comes to mind is a commercial I saw while riding the stationary at the gym this morning. I’m not sure what the commercial was about but in it an anthropomorphic creature of some sort flicked pistachios in a bowl and commented something along the lines of it’s time to get rid of shells.
I think I speak for a healthy majority of people in saying the pleasure of shelling a pistachio is a great deal of the joy in devouring the tasty nut. Yum. Now, I’m sure there are those who disagree and please feel free to tell me so. I welcome dissent here.
My question is, why do I enjoy the process of removing a pistachio from its shell and then eating it as opposed to having them pre-removed and just eating them?
The Unshelled Pistachio
Lest I be accused of not trying both methods, I’ve eaten from a large bowl of unshelled pistachios in the past. You just dig in with your grubby fingers, or perhaps use the spoon the germophobic hosts provide, and pop them directly into your mouth. They certainly must taste the same either way. A pistachio is, after all, a pistachio.
But do they taste the same? My answer is no, they don’t. My brain does something. When I pop pistachio after pistachio, or even a handful, right in a row, the taste is diminished. They just don’t taste as good to me this way.
Now, obviously, this is mental. There is something in the pleasure of shelling a pistachio that changes the perceived flavor, for me at least.
What’s the Difference?
Two things come to mind in trying to decipher why I enjoy the taste of a pistachio I’ve removed from its shell more than one I have not.
The first explanation is simply the time between eating one. When I shell them one by one, there is a delay before gratification. I’m not the sort to remove ten from their shell and then eat them in a row. I remove one, eat it, move to the next. I even take some time to sort out the larger and smaller at times. The smaller being more difficult to shell, generally.
The second explanation is the effort required to shell a pistachio somehow translates to the joy of eating it. The sense of accomplishment in getting it open, casting aside the shells, and then popping it into my mouth. There is also the satisfying sound of the shell breaking open.
There’s no doubt in my mind that I enjoy the taste of a pistachio I’ve removed from the shell more than one I have not. How do you feel about it? Is it a human thing? A Tom thing?