Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pine nut pesto turns me bitter

Slat my dood met 'n nat vis.

Literally, Beat me to death with a wet fish. A Cape expression of incredulity.

I've been Googling. My caterpillar bitterness persists in my mouth this morning. Hypochondria in the offing.

And then I found the Chinese pine nut links. Bitterness in the mouth up to ten days after eating Chinese pine nuts. Or these pine nuts.

Three days ago I made a quantity of pesto with terrace basil and Chinese pine nuts from Sahadi's. The shopman actually persuaded us to buy the Chinese over the Spanish and indeed, they tasted better: crisper, crunchier, fattier.

We ate the pesto two days in a row, and yesterday, when the caterpillar squirted me, its terpenes and the pine terpenes made a big mushroom cloud?

Obviously, not everyone is affected, as the Frenchie is just fine. So to test the theory for yourself:

1/2 a cup EV olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 of a cup Chinese pine nuts
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan
2 cups lightly packed basil leaves
3 tbsp butter
salt to taste

Whir up in blender or food processor. If you are a purist, pound by hand in mortar. Eat, enjoy, and wait for a while to see what happens!

More info here


  1. I love homemade pesto sauce. But i don't care for any kind of pinenuts; i uses walnuts instead.

  2. That's interesting, but must be hell for a serious foodie!

    Seeing those little suckers,previous post, I must ask - are your "good" lady birds on the increase after the recent virus, or whatever all but wiped them? I've seen several here, but also several of the 28 spot leaf-eaters.

  3. For a proper experiment we also require a group that is just squirted by die caterpillars, and another that is both squirted and get to enjoy your pesto...

    Good luck.

  4. poisonous Chinese pinenuts? oh no! Hope the nasty taste leaves you, soon.

  5. Interesting theory... I grew up eating Chinese pine nuts (which we purchased in Chinatown in Honolulu) but never experienced the bitterness. Nor have I experienced the phenomenon after eating pesto. My guess is caterpillar juice (which I have NEVER experienced) or the combination of "tastes". I sure hope the bitters go away soon!


  6. not to malign the produce of your terrace, but it is getting late in the season and the basil might be a little long in the tooth. the last basil dish i made was incredibly bitter due to the aged basil.

  7. Pesto was delish, all...pine nuts, too. Just seems some react averse, like, to quote Halloween (I think)..

    Anonymous 1 and 2 , please use your name when commenting...just fill in the name space, and you can ignore the url.

    MIT - I didn't know about the ladybird affliction, and have seen only one on my terrace.

    Johannes, yes, I will have to force Vince to be squirted!

    Paula, we don't think they're poisonous, it might just have something to do with resin? Bitter taste returns every time I eat.

    Keli'i, it is bizarre, but after reading soooooo many accounts of it, I tend to think it's the nuts, though it's probably just some people and some nuts.

  8. You are pretty handy with a camera!

  9. I'm with jvdh. We need a group of people who will volunteer to be squirted by caterpillars. ;-)

  10. Thanks Safricans expats, and Fern, my husband is not volunteering, but I still have that angry caterpillar happy to squirt any other guinea pigs? Are you offering? :-)

  11. A friend told me two months ago, she went to Sahadi's to get some pine nuts, asked for the spanish ones and the man behind the jars insisted that she really wanted the cheaper chinese. He insisted, she persisted. She won, but not without grief.

    In New Mexico, we used to go into the piney hills and harvest our own. In season, people would sell the nuts or cones in big bags on the side of the road.

    All that said, there have been times I've gotten a bitter tongue and it lasted for days. No idea why.
    I use it as an excuse to eat sweets.


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