To be filed under ‘bizarre afflictions’, I awoke recently to a cup of coffee that left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Not thinking much of it, it wasn’t until that evening that I realized that everything I’d eaten that day had left me with much the same sensation. Why the bitterness? I feared I was being overtaken with a nasty case of cynicism. When it continued for a second day I became a bit concerned. In the amount of time it took me to enter a question about the symptoms in a search engine and click the return button, I had an immediate answer: Pine Mouth, a mysterious reaction to eating pine nuts! Mysterious because there is no known reason for this reaction, though the experts swear it is not an allergic reaction. Huh?
There are various theories about the cause of this syndrome: the origin of the nuts (Chinese vs. Italian vs. other countries), fresh vs. rancid nuts, etc., though none of them seem to be based on concrete data. Mine came in a bag that stated the origin as three possible places: Korea, Russia, and/or Vietnam. The bag also had a tiny box with a disclaimer stating that some people might have a bad reaction to this product which could result in a metallic taste in one’s mouth. Hmpff. Whole lot of good that did me. Fortunately, my Pine Mouth didn’t last terribly long (some people claim to have it for as long as several weeks), as it tapered off within a week, fading each day. I had the strongest reaction when eating acidic foods. The last few days I forgot about the episode entirely until biting into a slice of a Florida orange, its wonderful citrus aroma morphing into an explosion of bitterness once it reached my mouth. I’ll certainly continue making this kale salad — which is where I’d added the pine nuts, slightly toasted, thinking their earthy crunch would be a nice addition (and they were! until they weren’t) — though I’ll use alternate additions/substitutions. In the meantime, I’m so appreciative to be able to once again enjoy my Page oranges for all their sweetness and fragrant orangeness.
Note: these photos are not Page oranges.