When I was a kid my grandpa often came home with a bag of piñon. He set them on the table for me and my cousins. We broke the little brown shells in half to reveal the meat inside. At 27 I saw a salad recipe that called for a pine nut. Not knowing what it was, I googled it and found a picture of naked piñon.
Daughter, I wish you knew it as piñon. That you could feel what it was like when your grandpa came home with a bag of piñon that he bought from a guy with a cardboard sign. I wished you knew how it felt to sit at the dining table with all your cousins to crack the shells wide open. You would put the piñon between your teeth and crack it, just a little, to not smash the sweet nut inside. You would eat and eat piñon until there was no more left.
When I visit my family, I look for someone selling piñon. I check the 7-11 around the corner, the one where grandpa always bought his lotto tickets. No one sells piñon on the street anymore. Instead I find small bags of pine nuts packaged at the grocery store. They are shell-less, naked and cost an unreasonable price of $7.99 for a small bag. All the fun is gone. There are no shells to crack. Grandpa isn’t around anymore. Now, I only have piñon memories.