They stay on mine too, but don't seem to influence the flavor or anything.
They can really stab you while washing them off. I just put them in my sink
and scrub off the spines with a devoted little nylon pot scrubber, and they
clean up fine.
the spines come right off, and only leave a little white spot to show that they
were ever there.
but if you find a defense mechanism, or some reason why they grow those bad
boys, let me know too. It would make sense that it was to deter critters from
trying to eat them, but on the other hand, some plants just won't grow at all
until the seeds are eaten. It's a wild, wild world we live in!
anyways, keep the updates with any research you might have performed.
Do they still taste ok? that's really the acid test!