I had little fondness for pistachios.

There wasn’t a particular reason for my dislike of this nut. I don’t think pistachios taste bad. But I crave raw, unsalted peanuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, and almonds. Even wanting a roasted-over-an-open-fire chestnut at Christmastime during a festive stroll. I’ve never said: Man, I’ve got to get to the store for pistachios. Or hey, load up my beloved vanilla ice cream with pistachios, please.


My anti-pistachioism lasted since I first tasted one sometime around 1982. They had blazing red shells and a taste too sharp for my buds.

There’s something to be said for following our gut reactions to people we meet and foods we eat.

Experimenting is a Life Essential

Row of Boar legs in Madrid RestaurantBut does that really mean with food? I’ve tried meat cut direct from the shank of roasted boar in Madrid. Fought through eating Paella served with head-on shrimp—hmm, also in Madrid. (Is this why I don’t want to return to Madrid?) Hawaiian Poke bought at the local market and eaten on a hotel balcony while the sun sets—perfection. Who’d have thought I’d like that? I’ll try any vegetable you put before me, even okra, but meats? Not so much.

And that’s how I felt about pistachios for decades.

Alex decided we should have a new nut in the house. (I assume he meant besides me). He brought home a bag of the wretched buggers. Expanding my narrow taste buds, Alex expertly cracked a few, dumped them in my palm, and away I went. Not bad. Still a unique taste that struck my tongue as a bit bitter, but edible.

Home Alone Doesn’t Always Work for Me

Yep, trouble around here often starts when Alex leaves me on my own. Snakes in the family room, applesauce in the dining room, and crazy chipmunks in the yard. (At least the little rodents stay outside.)

I grabbed a half dozen pistachios and set myself to pulling the shells apart. It was working pretty well. Then I came up against The Nut That Did It. I couldn’t get the blasted pistachio open for anything. Did I behave intelligently and find the nutcracker? Don’t be silly, it was in the other room. Nope, I stuck the nut in the back of my mouth and crunched down on the shell.

Bad move.

The crown was old, very old. It may have lasted years longer if I hadn’t broken off a wee chunk when I took that dastardly bite.

I called my dentist and explained what I did this time. The receptionist laughed at me again. She recalled the time I rang her up and said: I broke my tooth on a Curiously Strong Altoid Mint. Yes, I really did.

My dentist replaced the crown and three months later, the pain has never ceased. She sent me for the first root canal appointment. Did you catch that? First appointment.

Oh Pistachio, How Could You

I have to go back and have another nerve dug out. When the endodontist explained, I relived the physical terror launching when we rode Epcot’s Mission to Mars rocket. I survived the G-force take-off, soaring through space, landing, and plunging off the edge of the cliff to re-land. My first thought wasn’t one of success. It was, dear heavens if they make me fly home I’m going to scream at the top of my lungs.

So it is with returning for part two (of three) of the Great Root Canal Experience.

The Original Moral of the Pistachio Story 

We should listen to gut reactions to people causing the hair on the nape of your neck stand-up. Flee the other direction! So maybe, we should follow our gut instincts and avoid the nuts we’ve already vetted.

Except ….

There was a meal in Milan one spring evening. Afterwards, our friends said, let’s get gelato. I love gelato. Ever since Jackie and I first tasted it in Manarola during our great Italian adventure. This night, I decided to be bold and try pistachio gelato. Oh great heavens! What a delight! Can I have more? Is it acceptable to have gelato for breakfast! My love of pistachios started then and has never stopped. But I get them already shelled.

Gelato in Manarola, Italy
Gelato Shop in Manarola, Italy

And last note? Last year, we were eating Mineo’s Pizza—an Alex favorite from his childhood. Oops, problem at the olive factory … he bit down on one, right into a pit, and broke a tooth.

We should probably stick with mashed potatoes and gelato around here, eh?

* Read, Marvelous Milano