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

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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The Alabaster Roses

By P. H. K. Schoeffner

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

Two brothers search for a magical flower that will rouse their sister from her mystical slumber.

Jochen, Natalie, and Barbel are siblings.  One day, while exploring a nearby forest, they discover weird and wonderful black flowers.  Beautiful and elegant, the black flowers also exude an aura of horrible evil.  Cousin Thorsten, who is accompanying the siblings, relates the legend of Schoenboeck, a powerful magician, who laid a curse upon the flowers – anyone who approached the flowers would fall into a never ending sleep.  The only way to lift the curse is through the alabasters roses, which the wizard keeps inside his castle Drachrosenstein. 

When none of the others are looking, six-year old Natalie gathers a few of the black flowers.  She instantly falls asleep.  Her brothers determine they will rescue Natalie by finding the castle and bringing back the alabaster roses. 

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