Monday, December 08, 2008

A Piñon Story

Greetings Readers

piñon ("peen-yone"). Oh yes Readers, I bought some Piñon while on vacation last month.

An interesting nut and not to mention a nut that adjusts to cost and demand of the time of harvest.

I would have to say that I am good without having any Piñon for a while. Meaning, Once I lose the taste, run out of my stash of Piñons or been more than a few weeks I do not crave any Piñons.

I would have to say it has been a few years since I really enjoyed eating Piñon. I do have Piñon almost every year, but once every few years that I get hooked.

I would have to imagine that “hooked” is probably not the best word to use. “Addicted” is a better word. Once I tasted the first good Piñon harvest of the one good year out of four years I must have more Piñon.

And that is what happened to me while on vacation.

I had the first Piñon nut of the year when I got to my brother’s place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a small zip lock bag from the stand where we buy some of our fresh vegetables when we need fresh vegetables. And most of the time this place has fresh fruit, vegetables and chili when each of them is in season. Well, they had Piñon Bags that were from this year’s harvest and were already roasted and salted. I think my mother paid $ 7.00, which is about average price of a zip lock bag that size.

I had couple of them, but only a couple of them since I was ready to go out for our annual breakfast meal when I arrive in Albuquerque.

24 Hours later my mother was showing me a gallon size zip lock baggie that was half full of Piñons, but were not roasted or salted. My eyes went big and then there was a goal in my head, finish all the Piñons that were roasted so we can get to roasting and salting those freshly picked Piñons. And do it as soon as possible. Oh, that bag of Piñons came from my father’s sister.

Three days later, perhaps, all the Piñons were gone from the bowls and Baggies at my parent’s house. I, or perhaps all of us, finished the Piñons and now there was only one thing left to do in order to have more Piñons. Roast and salt.

Unfortunately, I am not an expert at roasting and salting Piñons. Nor was my mother. My father, her husband, was the Piñon Roasting and Salting Master of the house.

Under some guidance my mother and me worked together to roast and salt the Piñons. I thought my mom was not roasting right since I thought the Piñon nut was soft and a bit rubbery. Then again, I am not a Piñon expert taster. I was relying on the Piñons that I ate days before where the nut was roasted, and not rubbery.

I was reluctant to really enjoy those nuts and felt they needed to be roasted longer. Again, this is my opinion only.

My dad roasted some Piñons a bit longer after my mother roasted them and he cooked the Piñons almost perfect, to me anyway. The Piñons were roasted a bit longer than normal and in some of the Piñons they tasted “burnt roasted,” but in a good burnt roasted way. I did not mind, after all they were not rubbery and I felt okay with eating well-done roasted Piñons as opposed to wondering if I am eating not quite fully roasted Piñons.

Mom complained that some were burnt, over roasted. I did feel bad for her, but what was done was done.

Yet, we all ate the Piñons regardless. The Piñons were very good. A few were burnt noticeably, but others were perfect

Fast forward.

The last Saturday of my vacation we decided to go to town, which meant we were going to what is probably the “unofficial” Piñon Capitol of New Mexico. My Mom had mentioned that there is place just outside town that they buy wonderful tasting Piñons from people selling out of their vehicles.

With the past Piñon roasting I knew that I had to replace that batch of Piñons that were roasted more than they should have been. I was going to buy a sandwich size zip lock bag Piñons to replace the over roasted Piñons.

I saw only two vendors selling Piñons and both were inside their vehicles from the cold and blowing air. Though their fold up tables were just set up on the front left side of their vehicles.

My mom and me drove up to the first vendor and I got out. My mom rolls down her window where the vendor had gotten out of his vehicle to greet us.


My mom says the same thing back to him. While I say “hello.”

I start talking “So whatcha got here? And what are the prices?”

He starts pointing the all the different shapes of zip lock bags that were lying on the table. “5, 10, 15, 20 and 45” “All these are roasted and salted.” And then he points to the far end of the other table which was East “and that is un-roasted” Which was the largest 1 gallon zip lock bag filled to probably maximum capacity.

Readers, I saw that huge bag and I knew that I had to get that bag.

Meanwhile, my mom was conversing with the vendor.

“Let me go check out your competitor, be right back.”

With that I walked over to the other vehicle, which was about 10 yards away.

This vendor had a nicer set-up than the first vendor. A nice white sheet draped the table; Prices were written on white pieces of paper and taped to the sheet to show what size of zip lock bag was going to cost.

A girl comes out of the vehicle and greets me “yá'át'ééh”

“Hello. Just looking at your Piñons”

I noticed right away that this vendor was five dollars more than the first vendor. That huge bag of Piñons that the first vendor had on his table was 45 while at this vendor it was going for 50.

I did not even stay any longer to make talk with the vendor. “Thank you”

I walked back to the other vendor, glanced at my Mom shook my head in a no gesture and went back to the first vendor.

Now! Game on. I walked back into view of the first vendor and he came out and greeted me once more.

“Well, the other vendor is higher than you, which means I am buying from you today.” I say with a smile and already knowing what I am buying.

“Good.” He replies with a smile, but giving off the signs that he was cold and then says to me “It’s cold today.”

“Actually, air is alright it is just that wind blowing is making the air much colder than it is.”

“Your not from around here are you?” he says politely.

I ignore this question since I get this sort of question a lot from my own people (Native American Indians)

“Ok.” I was looking at the table and pretending to decide, ponder, what I wanted to buy.

Oh yes readers, Pretending. My mother and I are pretty damn good pretenders when looking for a deal. The showing of interests, the showing of looking like a decision is being thought of and the deliberate silence of not saying anything. Basically, I am looking like that infamous statue – The Thinker, but not as blatant as the Thinker.

I think I spent about 30 seconds looking at all the zip lock bags while the vendor waits for me to make a purchase. My mom was waiting in the car with the window up waiting for me to make a decision. I looked at my mother and then looked back at the table.

Fully remembering how much that big bag of un-roasted and unsalted Piñons were “I asked again for confirmation “45 right?”

“Yes” he answers, which I noticed he is shivering. I look at the big zip lock bag for about 5 seconds and then I look towards the other end of the table and pretended to pass on buying the big bag of Piñons.

I look and zero in at the ten-dollar zip lock bag.

He says, “I will take forty.”

I look up at him. “Okay. I will buy that bag and then I buy that 15-dollar zip lock bag for a total of 55. Ok?”


I walk over to my mother and she rolls down her window and hands me a five-dollar bill and smiles.

I walk back to the first vendor. “Thank you very much sir.” I say to him.

“Thank you and have a nice afternoon.” He replies.

With that I am now able to replace the Piñons I ate and hopefully make my mother forget that over roasting Piñons earlier that week.

Fast Forward – About ten minutes before leaving the Ranch to return to Colorado I walked to the kitchen with my 40-dollar zip lock bag of Piñons and replaced what I saw when I first showed up at the Ranch. I also said that the other bag is yours too.

“Here’s your portion” or something to that effect. “Thank you.”

My mother said thank you back to me.

Until the next time

Daryl Charley
The Fallen Athlete

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