I get weird about food.
When I was 4, I ate the same simple lunch for 2 years. Peanut butter and crackers or nothing!
When I was 23, I ate the exact same breakfast for a year without fail.
These days, I’m all corn tortilla and lentil tacos for lunch. Load up that homemade guac, of course.
I know what I like when I find it.
And it was no different when I stumbled across a nutty, chewy delicious seed/vegetable thing one of my first months in Thailand. As I normally do with any food item I’m in love with, I started eating it with pretty much every meal.
I look healthy here, right?
Its vaguely hippie dippie name (gingko nut) made me feel like I was eating something both tasty AND good for me.
Plus, it was a super multipurpose ingredient, and I could use it in salads, in curries, and even just pop a bunch as a snack.
see the yellow seed/nut thing with the kidney beans in the dish on the right? that’s what I’m talking about
All good, right?
So I thought.
At the grocery store one day, my friend pointed out my new favorite food and asked if I’d ever tried it.
Excited, I grabbed a few bags for my cart while telling him I’d been eating it every day for about a week.
A bit alarmed, he said, “You know it’s poisonous, right?”
That smacked the smile off my face and the gingko nuts out of my hand. I dropped them like they’d bit me.
“No way,” I cautiously countered, “They’d have to have a warning label. They wouldn’t be mixed in with food items.”
He insisted, “It’s Thailand. I’m telling you, it’s not good to eat a bunch. Google it.”
Terrified, I googled the nuts and raced through the description.
Sure enough, they cause poisoning due to a compound called MPN (4-methoxypyridoxine), resulting in convulsions and death, if you eat more than 5-10 nuts a day. I was eating at least 20 of those damn things a sitting (I’m a weirdo, I know).
Thank god I was at the grocery store that day with my friend, otherwise I might not be writing this today.
Now whenever I try a weird new food, I check the warnings online before making it a part of my weekly grocery list and daily consumption.