They were brought to a mandarin in a box and when he opened the lid of the turtle shell, he had long admired this pair covered with a strong shell. Now he had a rare collection for meditation and exercises that develop manual dexterity. In the box there were two absolutely identical walnuts with haydao – miniature and rare carvings on the endocarp. True fortune in old Chinese tradition. It is practically impossible to find similar fruits of Juglana regia. This tree gives every seed its own character and nature. A seed looks similar to the mammalian brain, it looks absolutely amazing with its combinations of bumps and curls, inspiring reverence for nature fantasies that sent man a sign of destiny in a simple and delicious way. The Chinese, great connoisseurs of green medicine planted nut orchards all over their country, gathering every year half of world’s crop of “the bread of the 21st century.” It meets an incredible number of vital and spiritual needs of the Chinese people and it is hard to find an industry in this country that would have no interest in walnuts harvest.
I spent my childhood in waves of pitch-frankincense fragrant of the groves, where we, boys, who skipped classes, ate nuts entertaining ourselves with conversations deprived of time’s flow. In September the nuts are still covered with green shells at the peak of ripeness, when a bitter yellowish membrane easily comes off the white starch particles of the seed. Then walnuts dry and lose much of its remarkable properties. Thank God, then we did not have computer games and the rest of synthetic entertainment that pull boys and girls from the world of nature indoor to the conventional reality. After the summer break we immersed ourselves in school life the way indecisive man on vocation do when they come into cold water: making a small step and then a stop for long thoughts. Walnuts were as if a timeout before throwing ourselves into school casemates. Their flavor amazed us, pigments clearly outlined the lips and ruthlessly stained hands. Teachers always paid attention to these parts when you mumbled something about fever and sore throat to them…
Now, passing by nut plantation I rarely see children there. There are lots of men and women there though. They fill their old cars with our best memories. Once the walnuts helped us to stay kids, now they rescue adults in trouble.
Walnut got its name from Romans, who inherited the Hellenic culture. Northern Slavs called Greek everything that came from the South, from Byzantium, that’s why the word Greek indicated the origin of a merchant, not the fruit. Americans call it an English walnut because they got it from British merchants. However, the European name of Jupiter’s acorns is Wallachian, meaning that it came from Wallachia, the land that once covered Romania, Moldova, and the South of Ukraine. Walnut and Wallachian nut are cognate words.
Ukrainians, ranking fifth in the world in terms of walnuts production (over 112,000 tons) clearly underestimate this unique product. In our cuisine it is a part only of a few dishes and is generously added to confectionery and to Christmas kutia (boiled wheat with raisins and honey). Production is export-oriented to the countries where people know that walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats, rare composition of amino acids and antioxidants that literally save from all diseases. Read about them in any encyclopedia and, for sure, you’ll get a desire to crack a dozen of tiny safes with health treasures.
In the Soviet times the famous biologist Ivan Michurin proposed a program called “Bread of the Future” to Sovnarkom (Council of People’s Commissars). He wanted to crossbreed the French chestnuts, Manchu and Georgian walnuts, and plant them all over the middle lane of the RSFSR so that in a few years they would be able to feed and heal the Soviet people. But the Council of People’s Commissars decided to stick to the fish oil… Thus, Michurin’s project was, in fact, a Chinese approach.
Eat walnuts, dear friends!