Lovely Loving Almonds

The Italian word for almond is mandorlo, and in sicilian mandola or mendula. In Sicily the association of the almond trees are with love and the idea of fidelity is rooted in Greek mythology. Phyllis, a noble maiden, wed demophon, who visited thrace to wed her after the Trojan War but then departed.

Phyllis waited for him to return, but after some years died of a broken heart. An almond tree sprang up at her grave. The tree finally bloomed when demophon visited the grave of his beloved wife. Centuries earlier, in Judaic history, samson presented flowering almond branches to attract Delilah.

There are several varieties of almond including bitter and sweet almonds. The idea that sweet almonds grow from white flowers and bitter ones from pinkish blossoms is somewhat misleading, at least in Sicily. The almond, which is related to the peach and plum, is the pit stone of a green husk.