"I can't remember ever seeing Brazil nuts in anything besides a bowl of mixed nuts."

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Brazil nuts at Campo dei Fiori in Rome. [Photograph: Lee Zalben]

I was in Italy not too long ago when I came across this interesting-looking snack. Intrigued by the words noci brasiliane, I realized I was looking at a granola bar made with Brazil nuts, something I'd never seen before.

As the name would suggest, the Brazil nut tree grows in South America. The nuts are somewhat high in saturated fat, which I presume is why they're not promoted as being "heart healthy" the way peanuts and some tree nuts are.

Brazil nuts have always intrigued me—the shell itself is so mysterious-looking. Then there's their giant size.

And while they're very crunchy, they also have an almost creamy taste, which, combined with the salt they're usually heavily coated in, provides an interesting combination of flavors and textures.

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Back to the granola bar. Barrita Nut was quite good—the salt really brought out the Brazil nut's natural flavor and became a nice foil to the other ingredients (on the sweeter side) in the bar.

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Come to think of it, I can't remember ever seeing Brazil nuts in anything besides a bowl of mixed nuts. Has anyone spotted them on restaurant menus? Or in recipes? The granola bar can't be the only example.

About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.

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