Seems I can’t walk by an almond tree full of blossoms without stopping. When I first came across them in Paphos two years ago, I thought they were cherry blossoms, despite the wrapper from the Greek chocolate bar company with these very pink flowers on the wrapper of the bar with almonds in it. The flowers are white, no pink–that’s how you see them, white no they’re pink. And when you pay attention you see that the petals are white flashing a flirty edge of brazen magenta. Imagine the colour like you experience that flavour–you know how it is when your shortbread has a drop of almond extract, or when your warm milk has a shot of amaretto. It’s not a straight flavour; it’s a working-out on your tongue, a white no pink flavour.
The almonds themselves have that same thing going on in the flavour. At home, the almonds we get in packages are just some dull nutty taste, utterly separate from that almond flavouring that gets added to our baked goods. The first time I had them here in Cyprus, where they grow locally, I was brought up solid with the flavour of almond extract inside the actual nut. Nothing extracted.
I was going on about how tasty the almonds in Cyprus are to one of the nurses who treated me while I was sick that first year here. It was early May then, I was going home as soon as the doctor cleared me to fly. “You’re going to just miss almond season. When they grow on the tree, at first they are soft and sweet like a fruit.” And I vaguely remember something from the Narnia stories, something about a place where gems grow like fruit, and I think they must grow like almonds, from blossoms that seem simple on first blush, but their pale petals flirt magnificently.
Passing an almond tree full of blossoms, I get an urge like the urge to dive in, or to give a kiss. Among the white no pink blossoms are dark nut pods, probably last year’s, little black knots of experience. This is no babydoll pink, make no mistake. I’d weep but that seems altogether too clumsy a response.