Food Of The Gods

By Christopher Zoukis           

Thirty-five hundred years ago – around 1325 B.C. – the mightiest empire on earth crowned a young boy as its king.  He was not only their king, he was their god.  The boy’s name was Tutankhamen.  For eight years he ruled Egypt.  In the spring of his ninth year as a living god, Tutankhamen suddenly and mysteriously died.  Some experts believe he was murdered.  Others believe he died from a brain tumor.  Image courtesy news.nationalgeographic.com

Shortly after his death, his body was carried to the House of Cleansing, where his brain and internal organs were removed and partially dried in natron.[1]  Tutankhamen’s body was then moved to the House of Beautification.  Here, costly resins were poured over the surface of his body.  As soon as the resins began to dry, Tutankhamen’s body was suspended upside down by his feet from the ceiling.  He hung there while the drying process continued.  These resins, once dry, preserved the skin to a leather-like quality.  Next, after the body was lowered, the specially prepared bandages were wound about the body.  This completed the mummification process.

Tutankhamen was placed in a sarcophagus, which was moved to his tomb.  Along with the sarcophagus, a number of personal items were placed in the tomb, including chairs, stools, and beds.  Writing palettes, memory boxes, articles of clothing (including twenty-seven pairs of ‘driving-gloves’)[2], a battle breastplate, many weapons, jewelry, and memorabilia from family, friends and associates were piled in a side room of the burial chamber.

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The Brief History of a Nut

By Christopher Zoukis

As early as 4000 BC, domesticated almonds were produced and available as a nutritious food.  The Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, circa 1325 BC, enjoyed almonds so much that he was buried with them.  Almonds imported from the Levant were discovered in his tomb.   Image courtesy golona.blogspot.com

Mentioned many times in the Bible, the almond has had symbolic significance not only to Christians, but to other cultures and religions as well.  To Christians, the nut represented divine favor and divine approval.  And it spoke of the Virgin Mary’s purity, which explained the almond’s presence around the Queen of Heaven in famous works of art, where it was called the vesica piscis.  The Chinese attached the ideas of feminine beauty, fortitude in sorrow and watchfulness to the almond.  While to the Iranians, the almond represented the Tree of Heaven.  And the ancient Phrygians considered the almond the Father of all things, because it was associated with the birth of Attis.  The Romans, on the other hand, believed that almonds imparted the blessings of the gods to any public or private event.  This explained why the Romans threw almonds and not rice at newlyweds.  And, as later evidenced, the Romans discovered a more nefarious use for almonds.  One that had nothing to do with blessing.

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Introduction of a Nut

By Christopher Zoukis

Almonds were introduced to America by Miquel Josep Serra iFerrer, who was born in Majorca, Spain.  When he finally arrived in California, he was Fray Junipero Serra, a priest in the Order of St. Francis.  He came to California to administer the missions on the Baja California Peninsula.  This system of missions had been founded by the Jesuits, who, because of their political intrigues, had just been forcibly kicked out of “New Spain” by King Carlos III. 

Father Serra brought along a bag of almond plantings, which he planted and attempted to grow.  His attempts failed, because the damp coastal fogs and high humidity of the area were not favorable to almond cultivation.  Image courtesy sfmuseum.net

Meanwhile, far across America, ranchers in New England and the Middle Atlantic States decided to try and grow almonds commercially.  At the same time, down in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado other ranchers were making the same attempt.  These ranchers thought that almonds should grow wherever peaches did.  It seemed only natural, since they were genetically similar.  It didn’t work.  Almonds bloom early and late frosts destroyed the harvests.  And if the frost didn’t get the almonds, because of the relative high humidity, disease did.  The venture was discarded as a waste of time.

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