Going Nuts: Pine Mouth Paranoia and the Seeds of Dread

Look how quiet, cute and innocent they seem. Alas...

I'm from New Jersey originally and while I'd like, for the sake of accuracy, to set the record straight and say I never, ever knew anyone who:

--Wore more bling than Liberace in a chandelier showroom
--Was so tan George Hamilton was looking for sunning tips
--Considered leopard and tiger prints to be "neutrals"
--Had fist fights in the mall parking lot over someone named "Big Jimmy" or "Little Vinnie" or "The Attitude"

I do think there's a certain element that permeates the culture of the Jersey tri-state area that the "reality" shows don't focus on: neuroticism. Specifically good old-fashioned hypochondria.

Comedian Richard Lewis could be our Patron Saint.

Mine started on Tuesday, when I did something I'm not proud of, and I'm kind of hesitant to even mention here. It was about 7:30 in the morning, I was at work early, and my stomach let out a rumble that probably caused local meteorologists to recheck their Doppler Radar screens for oncoming thunderclouds.

I tried to resist the outspoken nature of my internal organs at this point, but they persisted like a Mary Kay cosmetics representative determined to earn her first pink car at the risk of alienating the neighbors.

So I decided to scrounge my office. Sometimes I have breakfast bars there for just this occasion. But what I found in the very back of my snack cupboard this day was a package of Fig Newtons old enough to remember the Bush Administration.

I ate two of them. They were rock hard and bitter... Like so many of us felt after the Bush Administration, coincidentally.

But they kept the hungries at bay, so I didn't think much of it until I had lunch including my beloved french fries from a favorite local food truck, they were bitter. This started to be concerning.

But I had projects to do and the day moved on, so I went home and forgot about it until I had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. It was a suspiciously bitter bread and ball o' meat that I had that day.

It was by this time I had convinced myself that I had a brain tumor or organ failure or some epicurean epilepsy and I probably needed to go to the doctor. I managed to sleep that night, only to get up in the morning and find my breakfast bar to be untasty in that same, sour-metallic fashion.

So it was with trembling hand I typed in "bitter taste in my mouth" into The Google, expecting to learn I had picked up some disease that would eventually make my tongue implode upon itself.

Instead, it was chatty about pine nuts.

Forum discussions, news exposes. All of them talking about pine nuts causing this mysterious bitter taste that doesn't go away for several days up to even a month. Why, I had eaten pine nuts! Over the course of a week, I had made and enjoyed a Greek pasta salad that I had riddled with a liberal helping of the very nuts in question. The last bowl of the yumminess had been had on Sunday-- two days before the bitterness began. And that is apparently exactly as long as it takes people to begin to develop the symptoms of "Pine Mouth Syndrome."

"Pine mouth syndrome?" It sounds like something you'd say about Northwest Territory politicians with a gift for gab. But it's real, and apparently happening to lots of folks all over the web who are freaking out just like me because a tiny, tasty seed has made their world bitter.

Some of these people aren't even originally from New Jersey. So with enough evidence at my fingertips, even I, Queen of all that is Neurotic, was able to feel consoled and figure I probably wasn't going to die in the next week.
Of course, I still ate those aged Fig Newtons. There really is no telling the lasting effects of that.


nick said...

That's a neat post. Beware the lingering pine nuts, huh? And Fig Newtons old enough to remember ... Sir Isaac!

Unknown said...

Nick- +1 on your wordplay! :) Hope you have a great weekend.

Deray said...

jajajajaaja wow, I had never heard of that syndrome! I guess we Mexicans either don't suffer from it or we just don't eat pine nuts because, believe me, our hypochondria is at the same level as the Jersey shore during high tide :-P

Unknown said...

Deray- I'm pleased to learn Mexican hypochondria is akin to Jersey levels. I think I would enjoy hearing good old-fashioned Jersey neurosis expressed en Espanol.

I've never had Mexican food with pine nuts in it-- usually it's in Greek/other Mediterranean/Middle Eastern dishes. Then again, I only went to Mexico once and I was nine, so I probably didn't get the most out of my visit. :)

June O'Hara said...

A couple of points: You crack me up. Literally. 2. I'm from New Jersey and have finally come to peace with the fact that I like it here. 3.I've never gotten into a fist fight in a parking lot either. I have parking issues, but that would be the case anywhere, I believe. (No, I'm not proud of that). 4. I'm neurotic as hell, just not with hypochondria. Maybe I should take it up. Thanks so much for the laugh!!!

Gs said...

Pine nuts!?!?!

I only know pine cones. But then again I'm not from Joyzee!

ReformingGeek said...

I love pine nuts. So far, no bitter mouth but now I'm paranut....er...paranoid.


Janene said...

Man, I never knew that. I'll have to file that away in some deep recess of my mind. On a side note, I'm envisioning you in a leopard print cat suit with a Snooki hair bump having a cat fight with a girl over some Vinnie guy. It's pretty hilarious, though your nails do look beautiful...and way to long.

Unknown said...

June- Happy to oblige a fellow Jersey Girl! ;)

GS- They do come from pine cones, so you were on the right trail.

Janene- Oh dear. I don't think anyone wants to see that. I'm a t-shirt and jeans sort of gal, with flat hair and the exact opposite of any kind of tan; I'm sort of luminescently pale. :) I have been known to shout at people when driving, though.

meleah rebeccah said...

I am also from NJ. But I do know people that consider leopard and tiger prints to be "neutrals" - my aunt Lynda is one of them!

I never knew that about Pine Nuts. And, I will be sure to steer clear of eating any of them. Mostly because I am highly allergic!

And, once again you cracked me up with your turn of phrase!

Melody said...

I had the same experience on my b/d many years ago. I was eating some of my son's cake (we share a b/d), and it tasted Salty. This went on for several months before gradually fading away. And this was long before I'd ever heard of pine nuts. I thought this was my very own syndrome, and now I find out other people have had this, too, although my weird taste was salty, not bitter. :D

Judith said...

Wow it's great what we can learn just from reading other peoples blogs.

Lili said...

It seems as if people are more likely to have reactions to the kinds of pine nuts imported from China than from the pine nuts grown in the US or Italy. Alas, the ones from the US and Italy are also the really expensive ones...