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History of Nuts - Almonds




   Almonds belong to the rose family. Its Latin name, prunus dulcis, implies sweetness. The fruits of the rose family are many and include apples, pears, prunes, and apricots. If you crack the stone of an apricot, you will find a bitter nut inside that looks like an almond and is edible, reminding us that the apricot is a close relative of the almond, and some bitter varieties of almonds. 
   In southern Mediterranean countries, almonds are often grown together with olives, and both trees are considered sacred in the minds of many of the local peasants. 

   The almond is native to Asia. The almond traveled early in history, making it difficult to pinpoint a region of origin. The Phoenicians traveled the Mediterranean sea extensively in the twelve century B.C. they took many of their native foods with them to other countries and are the ones who most likely introduced the almonds to various Mediterranean countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, and France. 

   The use of almonds in folk remedies was very popular over the centuries. Some historians believe that cooks of royal families in medieval times added almonds to many dishes as they seemed to help the over-indulging royalty to better digest their heavy meat dishes.
   Almonds were a key part of recipes in medieval Mediterranean countries. Almond milk was widely used for flavoring and thickening in many English recipes in medieval times. In the European aristocracy and royalty of past centuries we find that nuts such as almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and walnuts were the nuts commonly available in Europe in medieval times. The concept that nuts made meat and chicken dishes healthier appears to have been well accepted. Later, we will see that the queen of Sheba in ancient times considered pistachio nuts a precious food, probably because they made her Court healthier. 

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