Almonds and Mysticism

By Christopher Zoukis

When archaeologists uncovered Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were both destroyed by the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., they found carbonized almonds.  This discovery indicated that almonds were cultivated in Italy prior to the first century. 

By 716 A.D., almonds were being cultivated in Northern Europe, for they are named in the charter granted to a monastery in Normandy by Chilperic II, who was the King of France.  And in 812, Charlemagne gave orders stipulating almond trees were to be planted on his imperial farms.  By the 14th century, almonds were being farmed on the Greek Islands.  Excess production was traded throughout Europe.  So valuable were almonds as a commodity they were taxed by the Knights Templar in 1411.  Image courtesy beautyblogofakind.blogspot.com

Probably introduced by the Romans, almonds became an important food staple in England.  The chefs of King Richard III compiled a cookbook called the Forme of Cury, which provided recipes for “Crème of Almand, Grewel of Almand, and Cawdel of Almand Mylke.”  The price for a pound of almonds in 14th century England was 2 pence for a pound.

The recipe for “Crème of Almand” was as follows:

“Take Almand blached, grynde hem and drawe hem up thykke, set hem oue the fyre & boile hem.  Set hem adou and spryng hem with Vyneg, cast hem abrode uppon a cloth and cast uppoa hem sug.  Whan it is colde gadre it togydre and lshe it in dyssh.”

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COOKING UP A STORM

By Christopher Zoukis

Some friends of mine were playing ‘Name That Movie,’ which is where one person quotes a line from a movie and the others guess the movie.  It’s a fun game to play, but not nearly as fun as going to a movie, hoping it might have one of those memorable scenes that you’ll never forget. 

For some unexplainable reason, cooking movies have always mesmerized me.  Probably because food, especially sharing food with others – in a restaurant for example – carries so much meaning.  To me, eating dinner at a restaurant with friends or family is almost a religious experience, because of the sacramental elements.  But now I’m getting maudlin.  And the point of this article is to enumerate my favorite cooking movies, which all had great kitchens with just the right equipment that gave them just the right look and just the right feel.  That’s why they’re so memorable.

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