My prior posts have been about things I want to put in my mouth. This post is about not wanting to put ANYTHING in it. I’m currently suffering from what I believe is “Pine Mouth.” Pine Mouth seems to have appeared on the scene about ten years ago, coincident with the move to import cheap pine nuts from areas other than the Mediterranean. A number of reputable media outlets have done stories on Pine Mouth including NPR and ABC News. Wikipedia, my favorite source for all pieces of knowledge outlines the theory that there are strains of pine nuts that are simply inedible and should not be sold along with the edible varieties. Consuming the inedible plants can cause a range of problems, the worst of which is a lingering metallic taste in one’s mouth that makes pretty much everything taste like licking the outside of an old metal fence post. It appears, according to the reputable news sources and countless other blog posts, that the biggest culprits in selling inedible pine nuts are Trader Joe’s and Costco. The bad nuts are generally from China, Korea or Russia and they, at least from my experience, look quite a bit different from the pine nuts of old. A decade ago when pine nuts were prohibitively expensive and came only from the Mediterranean, the nuts themselves were large and voluptuous. Round and curvaceous they looked positively bursting with good things. The new, non-Mediterranean pine nuts (the ones you’ll see at the likes of Trader Joe’s or Costco) are small, discolored and the opposite of curvaceous or voluptuous. They look mighty underfed, and scrawny.
I’m now on Day 10 of Pine Mouth. I can tell you that the whole experience leaves me wanting NEVER to eat another pine nut. It isn’t worth the risk. And I’m left wondering why on earth Trader Joe’s, Costco and other retailers continue to carry pine nuts from providers who mix the inedible nuts in with edible ones. Doing my own completely inaccurate research I asked my Facebook friends (430 of them) how many of them had experienced what they believe was Pine Mouth. I had 18 respondents, some of whom had suffered multiple times before they sorted out that pine nuts were the culprit. I’m also convinced that many people suffer Pine Mouth and wrongly blame some other source for the experience. My sister (whom I love and adore) thought a new vitamin regime was to blame. My beloved sister is a pine nut nut. She hoovers pine nuts the way the rest of us eat chocolate. She stopped taking her new vitamin and low and behold, the bitter taste went away. I recently convinced her to try the vitamins again – guess what? – NO BAD AFTERTASTE. I’m certain that with her weekly (nay daily) pine nut habit she happened upon a bad lot coincident with the beginning of her new vitamin regime and BAM, Pine Mouth blamed on vitamins rather than the actual culprit.
So, my fine food blog reading friends – add your voice to mine and tell Trader Joe’s, Costco and other supermarket retailers that they need to stop selling pine nuts from providers who toss cheap inedible pine nuts into the mix. The misery of eating them is an inexcusable by-product of corporate laziness and pursuit of the bottom line. Maybe when we all stop eating pine nuts they’ll finally wake up. If you’ve experienced Pine Mouth or any other food related problem and you want to file a complaint with the FDA – Click this link – FDA Complaint Form.
Final note to readers – if you’re looking for recipes featuring pine nuts – I am no longer your gal. Pine nuts be damned. I’m done with them for good.