Botanically a fruit and not a nut, almonds were found in
Tutankhamum’s tomb in Egypt (c. 1325 BC) and have followed
Man wherever he ventured around the world. The first almonds
to reach California were taken there by Spanish monks, possibly
even by Father Juniper Serra, the Franciscan friar from Petra!
Bitter or ungrafted almonds contain hydrogen cyanide,
otherwise known as prussic acid, which is released upon
chewing. Nonetheless, it was once used medicinally internally!
However, large doses can be lethal, and the cyanide must be
removed before consumption by leaching or roasting.
In Mallorca, at Christmas time, the shelled almonds are ground
to make almond milk, which is eaten with a special bread made
from potato flour. It is also considered useful in settling
upset stomachs, and has some fame as preventing alcohol