Spring is in the air, filling it with whisking flower petals, a chorus of birds coming alive, and a delicious perfume wafting from a rainbow of plants. Soon the juices of lush summer fruits will be upon us- gleaming peaches, cherries and plums waiting to leave sweet mustaches and be devoured.
But in other parts of the world, winter lives on- with piles of snow hiding clear blue lakes and flourishing green earth until summer is almost upon them. When winter stretches on, these places rely on simple pleasures and little peaks into exotic places to keep their cool, pleasant demeanors in place. Thanks to the raid and reform brought by the Vikings over 1000 years ago, Swedes have a path to some tropical delicacies at their fingertips. One of the most peculiar discoveries and now treasured food is one that much resembles the peaches and other stones fruits that define summer for many parts of America. But don’t try eating the fruit of this tree, it’s the stone inside you want to pry open. There lies a slightly bitter, sweet l, nutty morsel known as the Almond.
First thought to be discovered in Asia, the almond tree became known and fast-loved by people in the Mediterranean, and can now be found growing in many warm climates, with California reprinting modern America in a high-demand market for the nutritious nut- a demand fed considerably by northerners looking to supplement their historically simple diet of games flats, fish, potatoes and simple, long-storage grains. The monolith started working almonds into their daily meals, and they was soon being sliced and toasted to add richness to the crust of thin fish, ground into a candy-line paste for filling breads, and being baked into elaborate cakes for guests. When everyday folks were finally able to get their hands on the nuts, their creations were far simpler and sparing of the bits, but celebrated none the less. Pound cakes flavored with the unbeatable flavor made their way onto coffee tables as ritualistic treats, and cookies made with them were modeled after nutty but beloved actresses. Today, almonds are a readily available item that still take a leading role in Scandinavian cuisine, and if the great tree can withstand the great big dry spell, hopefully the almond can continue to inspire culinary creativity and enjoyment for another century to come!