Pesto is made from pine nuts, basil, garlic, and olive oil, basically. I also throw pine nuts on my pizza and into salads. But I never thought I’d have a pine nut for a friend.
His name is Adriano, and he’s Italian, so really he’s a pignolo, not an American pine nut. And actually, he’s not really a pine nut. He’s a Casanova scholar (among other things) who wrote the excellent and detailed entry on Giacomo Casanova on Wikipedia (in Italian). (Teacher note: I’m a teacher and often find myself warning students not to rely on Wikipedia for their research, but in this case I can vouch for the Casanova entry!)
So why do I call Adriano a pignolo? It’s the Italian slang term for a stickler–you know, of the Lynne Truss Eats, Shoots & Leaves variety. (If you don’t get the reference, that’s the title of a book where Truss recounts her horror at the grammatical misadventures that are inflicted upon her grammarian stickler self.) Adriano taught me this term pignolo one day when I had made an error in my research, and he had caught it for me. This is the guy you want around when you need an editor! And a fact checker! And some pesto! (He is, after all, Italian.)
He also taught me the British term pernickety, whereas in America we say persnickety, which I taught him. But “pignolo” is a true gem, as is Adriano. Maybe some day we’ll actually meet face to face instead of in cyberland.