Posted by: Ticktock | December 3, 2009

Bitter Pine Nuts – The Taste Bud Terrorists

Have you ever had your taste buds hijacked by a nasty persistent bitterness? Well, you may be the latest victim of flavor crimes perpetrated by pine nuts!

Pesto fans everywhere, since 2001, have been reporting disruptions in their sensation of taste that may last up to two weeks in duration. Everything from a glass of merlot to a kiwi fruit ends up tasting nasty, either bitter or metallic. The offending pine nuts, based on anecdotes, seem to originate from China.

There are two mysteries here. First, what is causing the symptoms of “pine mouth” ? Nobody knows, but there are hypotheses that the symptoms may be due to the nuts either being oxidized or rancid. It’s odd because only some pine nuts have been problematic, and the problematic pine nuts are only affecting certain people. There have been a few tests for contaminants or toxins, but they’ve yet to detect anything abnormal, which will lead to all kinds of speculation and conspiracy theories, if it hasn’t already.

The second mystery is why the symptoms only affect certain people and not others. One person might be effected for two weeks, while everyone else will be just fine. The temptation is to say that this is psychological delusion, similar to the phenomenon of morgellons. However, my friend reported to me that he was experiencing these symptoms, and did not connect them to pine nuts until he googled “bitter taste” and finally made the connection after the fact. While it’s tempting to be skeptical, I must admit that anecdotes of consequence, in their totality, do make a compelling case, especially when there is a lack of research on the subject. I do think that this is a real phenomenon worthy of further study.

I love a good mystery. What the heck is happening to the taste buds when certain pine nuts do their damage?

If you want to mess around with some crazy taste sensations this holiday season, why not skip the pine nuts and try Miracle Fruit pills. They rearrange your taste buds so that sour things taste sweet, wine tastes like chocolate, and snozzberries taste like… well, they still taste like snozzberries. It’s like an acid trip for your tongue, only it’s completely legal.

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