The tale of the almond tree

in Algarve · 02-02-2008 00:00:00 · 0 Comments

Surviving cold winters and blooming earlier in the year than any other, the almond tree is one of the Algarve's most emblematic and remarkable attractions. Announcing the arrival of spring they cover the region with sheets of white and pink.

Behind this beautiful event in nature is a tale that dates back to the time of the Moors, a tale of a flower that once took a Nordic princess' heart.
Once upon a time, when the Algarve or Al-Gharb as it was known when it was still dominated by the Moors, there lived a king who fell in love with a Nordic princess called Gilda.
After conquering her father's land the Moorish king conquered Princess Gilda's heart and took her hand in marriage.
But during the marriage he noticed his wife was very sad. Unsettled by his wife's sadness he called all the physicians in the world to find the reason for her sadness, yet none of them came with an answer.
One day a Nordic doctor found the answer to the King's troubles; quite simply Gilda missed the whiteness of the snow-filled countryside of her motherland.
Hearing this, the king planted thousands of almond trees throughout the region so that, when they flowered, they would cover the Algarve in a sheet of white, reminding the princess of her snow covered home and thus giving her back her happiness.
This is but one of many beautiful Portuguese legends and traditions associated with the almond tree.
All who drive up and down the region's countryside can appreciate the flower's gentle softness, and the grace of the cotton-candy-like trees.
But its offerings can also be tasted. Besides the beauty of the flower, the almond fruit makes a traditional sweet liqueur called Amarguinha, which is a perfect digestive to have with coffee after a meal.
Almonds are also used in many regional delicacies, such as the pretty little almond and marzipan cakes that give color and life to many a cake-shop window.
With spring fast arriving it is time to drink in, drink up, and pay homage to one of the Algarve's most attractive features; the almond tree.


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