Growing up, conversation at my house was nearly always accompanied by the sound of nuts being cracked by hand or seed shells being broken against the teeth. I was to later learn that seeds and nuts destined to be eaten while conversing are called passatempi in Italian or ajeel in Farsi. Evenings were enlivened as everyone showed off their dexterity cracking the perfect whole nut by hand, or as nimble movements of teeth and tongue freed a tiny sunflower seed from it’s recalcitrant shell.
The most challenging of these passatempi were pine nuts, which we called Indian nuts. The first time I saw a bin of shelled pine nuts I was amazed. All my childhood we always had the small oval seeds in the shell. And they were hard. Managing to crack open the shell and fish out the slightly resinous oval pine nut was a feat. So imagine my surprise when Good Food Executive Producer Harriet Ells walked into the studio today bearing a small bag of fresh crop pine nuts in the shell. The shells are so easy to open it’s almost cheating. Harriet found them at a roadside stand on Highway 126 by Santa Paula. The bag says Francisco’s Fruits in Fillmore. I don’t see the pine nuts on their website but perhaps a friendly call will convince them to send you a bag. Happy cracking!