Ever Eat a Pine Cone? Many Parts are Edible

Ever eat a Pine Cone?


I don’t know what it is about my metabolism but I don’t typically feel hunger pangs, at least not on any type of normal schedule for people who have access to food whenever they want.  Oh, don’t get me wrong. I can definitely put away the food.    

Food for me has always been about the taste.  I’m not a very healthy eater. My wife harps on me all the time:

You don’t eat right, you don’t get enough protein, etc etc.


She doesn’t see what I eat everyday though.  Even on the days when I’m not eating much meat, (or no meat), I’m sneaking bites of other foods like peanut butter, cheese and beans (I really like bean burritos).  Vegetarians know they don’t need meat and I’m sure that they get tired of people asking them how they get their protein.

I monitor my weight, I exercise and I make sure I’m at least eating different foods (unless of course I have a pot of Cincinnati chili in the house).  I do eat too much sugar but I’ve really cut back on that the past several years.  I used to eat a mega-bowl of ice cream almost every night.

So stop worrying, I’m fine.  I know I could do better, everyone can.

It’s too bad that we can’t eat like we did when we were teenagers.  My first day at Taco Bell, (when I was 18), I was told I could eat anything I wanted – ha, well say goodbye to six beef burritos that day!  And once Kim’s dad made a comment that he’d pay for a large Milillo’s pizza if I could eat the whole thing – child’s play for me as an 18 year old!


My new favorite Italian digs


Italian food is definitely a weakness for me as I just love marinara sauce.  Every town we’ve lived in I’ve had to track down what my favorite Italian restaurant would be.  Pizza is a really big weakness.  Even though I love the red sauce, I fell in love with a fantastic chicken pesto pizza here in AZ.  Before moving to Arizona permanently, I’d have to go get one every time we visited, (and as I’m writing this I am noting that I’m due again).  My sit-down Italian dish place here is a place called Rigatony’s.  It might be a cute play on the owner’s name, (Tony), and a piece of pasta, but it has a lot going for it – salad better than Olive Garden’s, the best eggplant parmigiana we’ve ever tasted and a great custom dish aptly called Baked Rigatony.

But…back to being hungry

When I was a little kid, I was afraid of my dad. He was fun when in a good mood but man, when he lost his temper I always tried to be “NOT AROUND”.  Things got a little better when mom started working at night and dad would hit the bar, (especially when he got a girlfriend), but up until a few years before the divorce it seemed like I got the belt or switch once every month or two.

I don’t know, maybe being the first born made me out to be the template.  I think my little brothers and sister had it much better and that their memory of him is much more favorable than mine.  But for me, he was strict and not always fair.  And so this little walk down my culinary preference list leads me to another memory I’d sooner not have.

We all know how little kids are at the table.  They often have foods that they hate or absolutely feel they cannot eat.  For me that was peas.  I love all vegetables today, (well maybe not boiled okra), but as a 4-5 year old, peas would just turn my stomach.  When called to dinner one night, I was presented with a plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes…..and peas.  Yuk!


That’s all we’re sayin’

I guess I made a stink about the peas and so my dad, (in his usual genius method), responded by reaching over and putting an extra heaping spoonful of peas onto my plate.  Next then, he told me I had to eat all my peas FIRST before being allowed to eat anything else.

You don’t get to eat your meatloaf until you finish your peas. And if you’re just going to sit there, then you can just go to your room without supper.


So that’s what I did.  I don’t remember if this was before or after my epic willow tree switching (link) but I definitely remember how I felt and what I did in my room.  I sat on my hardwood floor, hating my dad!  At an early age, I just got so tired of the ways he disciplined me.  I’ve learned from being a parent myself that all children are not alike and that different forms of discipline work on different children.  I was a smart kid and at a very early age, I can remember thinking that my dad thought he had to use the belt any time I did something wrong.  And so, like the episode where he continued to switch me until I cried, (and I didn’t), I sat there that night in my room thinking that all I wanted to do was to make my dad feel guilty about how he was treating me – because I thought he was wrong, being ‘stupid’ (is what I specifically thought that night).

So who was more stupid?  The guy who sent his kid to his bedroom without supper or the kid who sat in his room eating paper?  Yup!  You heard me right.  I was feeling hunger pangs and I thought I could satisfy my hunger and my need to “show him” by eating some paper.  I sat there thinking that my dad wasn’t going to break down so I’d sure show him!  I took a couple of clean sheets of white paper and began tearing off small pieces.  And yes, I started putting them in my mouth, chewed them up…and swallowed.  I stopped after eating one sheet of paper (tasted bad).  I know Euell Gibbons says that you can eat many parts of a pine cone, (and I wonder why the Grape Nuts folks thought it was smart to compare their cereal to eating a pine cone), but I wonder what he thought of other parts of the tree?

After an hour or two, dad let mom come in to offer me dinner.  I asked if I had to eat the peas and she said that I now had to eat just one bite.  I figured I could stomach one bite.  So I did.  I sat down at the table, all by myself, picked up my fork and put the cold peas in my mouth, (no microwaves back then, kids).  I just swallowed, no chewing.  Dad was sitting in the front room, watching TV, not even looking at me. I ate my semi-cold dinner and went back to my room.

If you’re reading this from a country where there is a high level of hunger, you’re right – poor baby, had to eat his peas. I feel grateful today for where and when I was born. But this is my memory and these are my stories of growing up in Hamilton in the 60’s and 70’s.


Seriously though, if you’re ever in Gilbert Arizona, try that thin crust chicken pesto pizza at Sal’s!   Oh and please….don’t eat the cardboard box!


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