I have never appreciated nuts. No, not the human variety. I’m talking about peanuts, macadamias, almonds…that kind. In very small quantities and in some foods, okay. But generally speaking, when someone breaks out the can of nuts, I’m drifting away from the snack table.
There is one notable exception to this. When I’m at Five Guys, where they have stacks of open boxes of roasted peanuts, and I’m waiting for my order, I dig into their peanuts like I haven’t eaten in weeks. They taste fantastic! I shell and eat them one at a time and it seems I just can’t get enough. As soon as I leave the joint, though, the love affair ends and I probably won’t eat another nut until I go back.
Now, I like trail mixes, and most come with nuts, and I have found myself musing that if the Five Guys peanuts were used for trail mix, I’d be in heaven. But alas, that’s not the case, and I find myself sifting through the peanuts to get to the raisins and M&Ms. On my last trip to Costco, however, I found big bags of salted, roasted peanuts in the shell and I decide to try them in the hopes they were like Five Guys’. When I got home and cracked the first shell, I was in heaven. Now I eat a bowl of peanuts every day, shelling them one at a time.
Now, I keep mentioning the one-at-at-time approach, and here’s why. While taking a call earlier today, I shelled a couple dozen peanuts to snack on after the call. When I finally dug in and popped a handful into my mouth, the peanuts tasted flat and uninteresting. I was really surprised. So, I shelled a single peanut and munched it, and the pleasure was back, in full.
I realized that it’s the taste of each peanut I like, not a bunch of them together. Each nut has its unique, wonderful flavor, some salty and earthy, others burnt just a bit, still others rich and buttery. Some were flat or less flavorful, sure. But each one was a surprise on my tongue.
And it hit me, it’s like that with humans, too. When taken as a group, it can be tricky picking up on individual flavor and beauty. Maybe grouping homogenizes our perception, which loses detail as more people come into range, and we begin to perceive everyone in the group as carrying the same dominant features. So in order to enjoy the true flavor of people, we need to savor them as individuals, one nut at a time.