Doch Nuts are popular Santharian snack food; a very tasty little nut, which comes in a shell that after harvesting, dries and cracks so they are easily opened. The nut leaves a pleasant buttery aftertaste that is beyond description. The shells have a natural saltiness to them, so most people will suck on the shells, crack them apart with their teeth, spit the shells out, then crunch up the nut.
|Image description. The Doch Nut Bush, providing popular snack food - a tasty little nut. Picture drawn by Quellion.|
Doch (‘Doe-sh’) Nuts grow on small bushes which can survive in virtually any
climate from very hot to mildly cold, but not prolonged frost periods or extreme
dryness. It is believed that they first existed in desert areas since the
foliage of the bushes isn’t very green, but rather more of a beige colour. Also,
the roots are deep and tenacious, a characteristic of plants which grow in arid
soil. The leaves are small and scrubby, shaped like long ovals. The bush bears
tiny whitish flowers which have small petals but thick calyxes; when the petals
drop away, the calyxes begin to swell like pods, and their exterior hardens to
become the shell of the nut.
The hard shells of these nuts are the same nondescript color as the bushes, which sometimes makes the nuts hard to see while on the bush. Once they are ripe the shell cracks, revealing the greenish nut inside. The crack also makes the shell much easier to open. The harvested nuts are usually spread out on a flat area of land and left to dry in the sun until the shell becomes a pale tan or whitish colour, at which time they can be scooped up into bags and readied for market.
Territory. They grow well from the Tandala Highlands through the Thaelon, the Zeiphyrian Woods, the Quallian, Auturian Woods, and as far south as the coast of the Gulf of Maraya below New-Santhala, around the village of Tarannoar. They are more common on the west side of the Ancythrian Sea than to the east.
It is not known where Doch Nuts came from originally - probably just some little patch of semi-arid ground in the middle of nowhere. Now they have spread all over Southern Sarvonia, and thanks to their ability to survive in diverse climates, have been able to be cultivated most anywhere. They are also very cheap to cultivate, and the bushes usually give off about three batches of nuts a year, which has also given them the nickname "Poor Man's Nut". But if you are looking for Doch Nuts, don't go looking for a bush, but simply head for the nearest inn.
Usages. Doch Nuts obviously have only one use: to be consumed. They have a very pleasant nutty taste and a soft, buttery aftertaste, with a slight natural saltiness to the shell. They are mostly used as a drinking snack in inns and taverns, as they go well with ale, but are also popular just by themselves. They have become popular over Southern Sarvonia since a few traders first started dealing in the dried, salty nuggets, and they are still spreading over the continent.
Doch Nuts can be used in many baking receipts, of which the most popular is no doubt the deliciously chocolaty “Kao-Doch Cookie”, which uses Kao-Kao bits and chopped Doch Nuts to create a rich, melting disc. These cookies are so delicious, they scarcely have time to cool, so your only hope is to be at hand when they come out of the oven!
Image description. A tasty bowl of doch nuts. Picture drawn by Seeker.
Ground Doch Nuts mixed with a bit of sea-salt
and sunseed oil make a tasty paste known as Nutbutter or
Dochspread. Children particularly enjoy this greenish-tan substance spread over
slices of bread, or as a dip for fresh vegetables. It travels well in small clay
pots, the natural oils tending to separate, float to the top, and preserve the
fresh flavour; upon arrival at one’s destination the pot must simply be
well-stirred to reincorporate the oils.
Myth/Lore. There is a myth that has spread along with the nuts that they actually contain a natural substance that, as soon as it hits your tongue, makes you want more nuts. Since they have been so commonly used in drinking establishments, to the extent that they have been given the nickname "Ale Nut", people believe that ale amplifies this effect. The only cure found for the instant addiction is to eat a different sort of food. This still leaves you with a residual want, which is usually stoked whenever the person sees a Doch Nut or smells one.
Doch Nuts are also believed to be very sustaining, and the expression ‘as full of meat as a Doch Nut’ is often used in the marketplace to suggest that something is nutritious, strong, or well worth its cost. Certainly a pouch of Doch Nuts is a good thing for the traveler to carry, as long as plenty of water is also available!
An old drinking song of the last century which mentions Doch Nuts is given below; although the original melody has not come down to us, we find it goes well to the tune of “Bright Eyes A’Shinin’” and might well be revived for modern topers’ use!