photo of a walnut tree by JLPC
so what's that all about?
Word To Use Today: walnut. The Old English form of this word is the charming wahl-hnutu, which means foreign nut. The Old French (that is, the language spoken in France before its inhabitants got so polished and eternally youthful) form of the word was noux gauge, which probably comes from the Latin nux gallica, or Gaulish nut. This implies foreign, too.
photo of unripe walnuts by The French tend to pickle their walnuts at this stage. They're delicious.
So where do walnuts actually come from? The two commonest types are the English walnut, Juglans regia:
illustration by Amédée Masclef
which comes, obviously, from Iran, and the black walnut, Juglans nigra, which comes from the eastern parts of North America. The sort commercially available are of the English type because the black walnut, though tasty, has a very hard shell which means it's hard to get the meaty bit out in one piece.
Final fact: the brown skin on the surface of a walnut kernel is full of stuff that stops the nut inside going off.