Sunday, August 22, 2010

Because I can’t just stand idly by


When you are having dinner with a party of 9, and 3 of them are complaining of “pine mouth,” you’ll want to get to the bottom of it.  or I will.  You may just want to keep clicking my bookmark, hoping that I will write about it (or anything).

Here’s the story.  In case you, too, think you might be having a stroke.

Something’s gone off with the world’s pine nut supply, and Roger Hyam is the recognized (and self-imposed) non-scientific expert on this topic.  If you have been experiencing an odd metallic bitterness you can’t shake AND you have recently indulged in the pignoli, learn more through the tumahmiracle of web surfing.  If you have not recently eaten pine nuts, then you probably are having a stroke. 

Pine Mouth is not as new as you might think.  Hyam experienced his in 2008, and since it is nearly impossible to sort search results by date anymore, I’ll trust ABC when they say it was first documented in 2001.  We’re just late to the table (snar snar) on this topic.  Here are the prevailing theories behind why you may no longer enjoy pesto (or anything that comes after it) AND why you do still enjoy it even after you have succumbed to your partner’s “here – taste this – is this bad?”  And now she is not speaking to you (except to continue to yammer, “This Sprite – it’s like quinine.  Here.  Isn’t that bitter to you?”)

1. These nuts are stale: Any nut can go bad, and due to their fatty make-up, they can go wicked bad, as we say.  Considering the pile of nut bags stacked up in the fruit aisle

grocery_store   well…. no… I really meant these:

bulk%20nuts  and considering that pine nuts retail at about $20/lb, the ones you bought might have been around for a while.  But a couple of months for nuts is fair, and years if you freeze them.  Most pesto-eaters I know love to freeze everything anyway.  (you can call that a sweeping statement, but you know I am right)

2. These nuts are bad: The fungal theory.  Am I right ladies…?  In fact, no.  There is a fungus associated with pine nuts, but it is a “good” fungus, says the Yeast Infection Advisor.  [pause] says The Yeast Infection Advisor.  If you ever needed proof that everyone has a website but you, that ought to do it.  YIA actually recommends pine nuts for kicking the candidagibbons

3. These are the wrong kind of nuts:   Not all pine nuts are created equal.  And we don’t know the difference.   Hyam’s site separates them into convenient piles; he and other theorists on this topic that we can…

4. Blame China:  It’s not as if they have never put crazy things in their food before.

l_640_martinelli One other factor to this phenomenon is that not all who ingest the same chockful o’ nuts will have the same reaction.  But this not an “allergy” in the true sense of the word.  It just might be something else you are bringing to the table that your dinner mates are not.

5. What are you on?  Check your meds.  They won’t say “do not take with pine nuts” on the label, but as a parlor game with your closest friends, it could pass the evening.

6. It’s You.  Get used to hearing “I don’t know what you’re talking about” for a few weeks.

My own theory involves a certain seed company whose name I can’t silkwoodmention without danger of mysteriously disappearing, but it is also my theory behind the sudden appearance of peanut allergies – I think someone is altering the nuts.

More fun than researching the theories is exploring the recommended “treatments” for removing a taste from your mouth that lasts approximately as long as Bell’s Palsy and is only half the fun.  From here you can wander into instructions for harvesting your own pine nuts.  I know a few foodies who probably shouldn’t have this information.

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