Pine Nut Warning

It’s pesto season, so I thought I’d do my part to spread the warning about a recent pine nut problem. Apparently (according to this thread on Chowhounds), there is a problem with some pine nuts, including the crop that are in the markets around Montreal right now. It appears to be specific to the cheaper ones from China and Korea.

Apparently there’s some kind of oxidization going on, and the result is that after you eat something made with these pine nuts, you experience a bitter taste in your mouth that can last for a few days up to three weeks. It can ruin your appetite, so maybe it’s a good thing for those who are looking to shed a few pounds, but for the rest of us (ok, I’m looking to shed a few pounds, but not this way), it’s something to be aware of.

Fortunately it doesn’t make you sick, and the toxicology studies come up with nothing unusual. But it is awfully inconvenient and annoying — especially this time of year when there’s such an abundance of fresh harvest produce on the market waiting to be enjoyed.

From what I’ve read, you will not experience this problem if you buy the more expensive pine nuts from European sources.

More information:

Editorial postscript: this could serve as a wake-up call to those who are always on the lookout for the best price when it comes to food. The reality is that our markets are full of ridiculously cheap food (according to some sources, food in the western hemisphere is cheaper now than it has ever been). But you need to question why that food is so cheap. The answer is often that, like a lot of dollar store goods, the production has been outsourced to China and other places where labour is so cheap it’s practically free. But those places have much lower quality and safety standards, so buyer beware (or, as caveat emptor is more properly translated: the buyer should make him/herself aware).

Invisible Man

On the way home from work today I found an envelope on the ground. It was addressed to the SAAQ (Quebec’s department of motor vehicles) and had a name and return address hand written in the upper-left corner. It was very thin, so I figured it was just a payment form and a cheque. It also had a stamp on it.

Obviously, someone had dropped it on their way to a letterbox. It occurred to me to simply drop it in the post and forget about it, but then I realized that the guy wouldn’t know what had happened and might end up cancelling the cheque unnecessarily. So I took down his name and address with the intention of looking him up and calling or emailing to let him know it was safely on its way.

By the time I got home I still hadn’t passed a letterbox, so I still had the envelope. I looked the sender up on Canada411 and came up with nothing. He has a somewhat unusual name, but all the variations came up blank.

Then I Googled him. It returned only three hits; two from  Russia and one that was complete gibberish.

So I got creative. With the help of my one-watt tactical LED flashlight (one watt is a lot for an LED) I scanned the inside of the envelope. Sure enough, his cheque (for $180) had his name and phone number stamped on it. So I called the number. No longer in service.

Oh well. Tomorrow morning I’ll drop it in a letterbox, but the guy won’t know what happened until the cheque clears, which could take weeks (this is the government we’re talking about). Not that it matters, since I’m starting to wonder if this guy even exists.

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How to cancel delivery of White and Yellow Pages

This public service announcement shows you how to cancel delivery of those huge Canadian phone books that you never use, such as the Yellow Pages and the White Pages.

The people behind the phone directories don’t want you to cancel delivery (the more books they deliver, the higher their ad rates), but they seem to have recognized the necessity to allow that option. But here’s how they get you — the cancellation notice is only good for two years, after which it reverts back to “default” (which is “delivery everything”). The workaround is to not only cancel the delivery, but to mark a reminder item in your calendar two years from now to go back and do it again. Alternatively, you can use a service such as to send you a reminder email in two years time.

In either case, don’t forget to include the URL (or a link to this post) in your reminder, to ensure you can find the form again (although they will likely move it, just to throw you off).

How to cancel delivery of White and Yellow Pages:

  1. Go to
  2. Insert your name and contact info.
  3. In the right-hand column, check the items you do NOT want to receive.

  1. Fill in the “re-captcha” form at the bottom of the page, and click “Submit.”
  2. Make an entry in your calendar (or use to remind yourself to do it again in two years time.

Note: This method only works if delivery is not imminent in the next 60 days. There is a link on the delivery form to go to the distribution schedule, but the link is badly formed and doesn’t work on some computers. As a further public service, here is the link to the delivery schedule (PDF).

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