When we saw James Gassiot's hand-turned wooden nut crackers, they had to be right - locally made (in le Grand Pressigny) from carefully selected pieces of timber with glorious patterning in the grain. Elm wood is strongly featured, along with yew and fruit woods. The casse-noix is in two parts - a bowl rather like a candle-holder for the shells, and a wooden hammer. The nut fits upright in a little cup and you smite it smartly with the hammer. If you catch it correctly, you chip pieces off both halves of the shell, and you can pull the entire nut meat out undamaged. You can crack hazel nuts in the same way. Bits of shell fly across the room, but it's much more fun than the mole wrench!
|M Gassiot demonstrates the casse-noix. The book to his right is his autobiograpy.
|A selection of nut crackers and mortars
|Turning a "casse-noix"