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Pistachios!

Dear Matt:

Now that I am approaching the big 5-0, there is a question burning in my mind. As a kid growing up in San Diego, I could never get away with sneaking pistachios because my fingers were a dead giveaway -- bright red dye from the shells. What was that red dye all about, and why was it discontinued? Now my kids can eat all of mine and get away with it. What gives?

-- Life Isn't Fair, El Cajon (the mere fact that I live in El Cajon proves that)

Ah, pistachios. Food of the gods. I'm sure when you're eating them, you don't even care that you live in El Cajon. M.A. has a small shrine to pistachios in the TV room. Right next to the one for fresh cherries and tangerines. Though, if you didn't buy so many pistachios, you could probably afford to live in Rancho Santa Fe. But who cares? Food of the gods.

When pistachios were first imported from Iran and Turkey, they had been processed in the traditional way: brined, then roasted. The nut itself has a red husk, and the red from the husk would color the naturally tan shells during brining. When California growers started selling domestic pistachios, they attempted to meet consumer expectations with artificially red dyed shells. They stopped when red dye took a hit from consumer watchdogs. Most of the nuts we buy here are California grown; the fat, sweet old-school pistachios are from Iran. But U.S. pistachio growers convinced the feds to impose a 300% import duty on them, so it's just impractical to sell many of the Iranian nuts here. You'd have to mortgage that house in El Cajon to afford them.

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Dear Matt:

Now that I am approaching the big 5-0, there is a question burning in my mind. As a kid growing up in San Diego, I could never get away with sneaking pistachios because my fingers were a dead giveaway -- bright red dye from the shells. What was that red dye all about, and why was it discontinued? Now my kids can eat all of mine and get away with it. What gives?

-- Life Isn't Fair, El Cajon (the mere fact that I live in El Cajon proves that)

Ah, pistachios. Food of the gods. I'm sure when you're eating them, you don't even care that you live in El Cajon. M.A. has a small shrine to pistachios in the TV room. Right next to the one for fresh cherries and tangerines. Though, if you didn't buy so many pistachios, you could probably afford to live in Rancho Santa Fe. But who cares? Food of the gods.

When pistachios were first imported from Iran and Turkey, they had been processed in the traditional way: brined, then roasted. The nut itself has a red husk, and the red from the husk would color the naturally tan shells during brining. When California growers started selling domestic pistachios, they attempted to meet consumer expectations with artificially red dyed shells. They stopped when red dye took a hit from consumer watchdogs. Most of the nuts we buy here are California grown; the fat, sweet old-school pistachios are from Iran. But U.S. pistachio growers convinced the feds to impose a 300% import duty on them, so it's just impractical to sell many of the Iranian nuts here. You'd have to mortgage that house in El Cajon to afford them.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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