Why are pistachios having a moment in 2023?

Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: Instagram

Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: Instagram

Pistachios have always been popular among flavour-focused nutters. But, recently, the Californian green nut butter has been earning a ton of buzz. It has been replacing peanut butter topping acai bowels in Urbanity replacing almond filling in croissants in East Road cafe. Everyone was licking on nothing but pistachio ice cream that last summer. Ciao Cannoli‘s biggest seller is the pistachio flavour.

Further afield, it has been stirred into cocktailsscenting candles, and frozen into Disney’s Dole Whips. It’s been worming its way into the hearts of people who love inviting, indulgent nuttiness. It’s thrilling to see where our gal will pop up next.

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Long maligned in favour of the overblown peanut, or the ‘healthier’ almond in Dublin, Pistachios are finally having their 15 minutes. That said, we must pay respect to peanut butter. It led the way for all nuts into the world’s hearts, homes and stomachs. But where once it was peanut butter flavoured everything, now it is Pistachio.

If you’ve been on food-stagram/Tok of late, you will undoubtedly have seen the iconic pistachio pastries. These are known as Croons. The circular croissants are filled with pistachio goodness. Of course, they do come in different flavours, but it is the pistachio that has come to dominate.

Perhaps they were ignored for so long because you have to work to eat pistachios. Shell cracking is not for the lazy. Historically, the cracking of pistachio nuts was considered a good omen, specifically for romantic relationships. This led to couples meeting under pistachio trees, waiting for the sound of nuts cracking to ensure a successful and happy relationship.

In more recent toxic diet culture times, people were told to eat pistachios in small amounts. But only the ones that were still in their shell. Apparently, the tedious act of prying them from their shells would stop you from eating too many. Anyone who has ever gobbled a bag of pistachios in one sitting can attest this is nonsense.

Of course, we are not the first to covet the humble nut. The original homelands of the Pistachio were Turkey and the Middle East. Legend has it that the Queen of Sheba decreed pistachios an exclusively royal food and forbade commoners from growing it. Nebuchadnezzar, the ancient king of Babylon, planted pistachio trees in his fabled hanging gardens. In the first century A.D., Emperor Vitellius debuted the prized pistachio in his capital city of Rome. 

From there, the nut dominated Italy. Seeping into Italian food culture and becoming distinctly Italian itself. It became known as the “Latin Penny Nut” because the Italian sales route took it all over the Alpine passes. Finally, she got to America in the 1800s and slowly crept into the white western diet. Then, “go thoban” the internet came along and made it the biggest green star since Kermit.

Not only has the nut won the hearts of all, but the colour is dominating interiors. This shade is the epitome of understated cool. Let’s face it; if you’re still rocking avocado green in your home decor, you’re officially behind the times. Pistachio green is bringing some serious sass to your safe spaces with its femcel hue. After all, life’s too short to play it safe with colour.

The reason for this recent world domination is Pistachio’s dexterity. Those green nuts serve as both an (allegedly) heart-healthy treat and an indulgence. Add some pistachios to your savoury porridge, and you are That Girl. Fill a laminated croissant with pistachio butter, and you are a cosmopolitan city food blogger. Slurp your way through pistachio ice cream, and you are la dolce vita.

There’s something about pistachios that makes them seem fancier than other nuts. Pistachios have a unique, slightly sweet taste that sets them apart from the rest of the nut pack. A pistachio has more pizazz than an almond, they’re sexier than pale cashews, and they have a richness that feels inherently luxurious. But maybe that’s because I know they’re expensive.

Pistachios are the caviar of the nut world, and they know they can charge top dollar because people will pay it. And let’s be real, who wouldn’t pay extra for the prestige that comes from indulgence? That may be why Pistachio is having a moment now. As the imminent recession creeps in under the guise of a cost of living crisis, it’s pushing up the price of more basic nuts making people think, why not splurge on the pistachios?

This moment of pistachio love — that has the internet reaching for pistachio-flavoured treats in search of dopamine and comfort in an angry world that’s only getting worse — feels particularly decadent. In the face of being worn down, personal decadence is the biggest ‘fugg you’ we can give to the bourgeoisie who would keep us in our place.

Thankfully, now there are a metric fugg-tun of pistachio-laced options for making yourself feel special. You are the Queen of Sheeba, you’re worth it, and so are pistachios.

Elsewhere on CHAR: How Much is Too Much for a Pint

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