Tag Archives: Australia

Almonds

Though Prunus amygdalus is, as its name hints, a close relative of plums, as well as peaches, you’ll never eat this tree’s fruit. For this drupe (the technical name for fruit with stones, such as plums and cherries), life is the pits. Literally. The fruit of this native of southwestern Asia becomes leathery as it matures, and splits open when ripe, exposing the world’s most popular nut, the almond.

Actually, there are two types of almond—sweet and bitter. The bitter almond is used primarily for flavoring, but it is the sweet almond that we eat. The sweet almond, which is almost as famous for its beautiful white flowers as for its nuts, closely resembles the related peach.

The almond probably started in Asia Minor, but it was on the move so early that it is hard to be precise about where its roots truly lie. It is believed that almonds, along with dates, were among the earliest cultivated foods. Almonds have been found on the island of Crete, at the Neolithic level under the palace of Knossos and in Bronze Age storerooms at Hagia Triada. The almond was written of by the Babylonians, Anatolians (who used it largely for oil), and Hittites, and, along with the pistachio, is one of only two nuts mentioned in the Bible.

The Greeks were the first to grow almonds in Europe. The Greek scholar, Theophrastus, mentions in his history of plants, written about 300 BC, that almond trees were the only trees in Greece that produced blossoms before leaves. The Romans, who referred to almonds as “the Greek nut,” brought almonds to Italy around 200 BC The Romans used almonds primarily in the form of sweets, but also used ground almonds to thicken and flavor sauces. Actually, ground almonds have never lost their popularity as a thickener. Continue reading

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Filed under culinary history, Culture, Drink, Food, Geography, History, Language

Amazon Prime-Kindle

I posted this information on my other blog, but then I remembered that most of the folks who subscribe to that blog do not subscribe here, and vice versa. However, though my book, Waltzing Australia, is not as strongly focuses on food as this site is, it shares with this blog a focus on travel–so I’m putting the announcement both places.

Shortly after my book, Waltzing Australia, went live for Kindle readers, Kindle Digital Publishing asked me if I’d consider giving them exclusive rights to the book for the next 90 days. So the planned version for other ereaders is being postponed. However, there is good news for Kindle owners who are also Amazon Prime members: you can check Waltzing Australia out of the Members Lending Library for free.

Both the print version and Kindle version will still be available for sale, if you aren’t an Amazon Prime member — or if you simply prefer to own the books you read. But for anyone with Amazon Prime, you can now read Waltzing Australia for free, as one of your membership benefits.

I hope this leads to many more people sharing my adventures, and that more people will find out what a dandy travel destination Australia is.

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Filed under Books, Travel