That wonderful elixir of almond blossoms filling the air these days is the scent of spring to many.
For me, it’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
To say I like almonds is an understatement. I inhale them.
I go through the equivalent of three 6-ounce Blue Diamond cans a week. I was in heaven the year I scored two 50-pound boxes of raw almonds. I haven’t done that again because I almost doubled my weekly 18 ounces of almond consumption. I was probably pushing too much of a good thing since I’m sure someone, somewhere could commission research claiming consuming 5,760 calories a week in almonds isn’t good for you.
Almonds are the quintessential California nut. We grow 80 percent of the world’s supply and 100 percent of the domestic crop.
I didn’t always like almonds. Back in the days when there was twice as much of me, if something wasn’t fried, battered, drenched in salt, or sweet enough to induce a diabetic coma I wouldn’t eat it. I erroneously ate under the assumption that food in its natural state didn’t taste good. Vegetables had to be cooked, nuts had to have salt, and fruit was meant to be avoided unless it was used for flavoring in ice cream.
Now - save for junk in the form of cookies I eat at work - I cook nothing except for nuking Boca Burgers.
It is the reason why I can never get enough almonds. When you eat fruit, vegetables, and nuts in their natural state, after a while you begin to notice they have a taste that is more delectable than any seasoning you can add. You start to realize there is a reason there are about two dozen different apples. Each has a distinctive taste and texture.
Almonds - of everything I eat - are the most consistent when it comes to both taste and texture. It doesn’t hurt that they are healthy for you as well. I’d argue they are part of the reason why I have shed nagging discomforts that had plagued me for years, whether it was runny noses or the gout. I offer no scientific research to back how much better I feel physically and mentally with my California natural version of a Mediterranean diet minus any meat, fowl or fish. But I do know I rarely get sick, I’m never sluggish, and I feel like I can outlast the Energizer Bunny even though I’m rapidly closing in on 57.
Almonds were actually the first thing I realized you didn’t need to have all sort of stuff added to food in order to enjoy the taste.
Smoked almonds, honey roasted almonds, and virtually any other combination you can create aren’t about the almonds. It’s about the salt and smoky flavor.
Years ago when I was helping deep fry asparagus at the Stockton Asparagus Festival, I asked people what they liked about it.
They said the asparagus but they had to have it hot. After taking with them they finally conceded it had to be served hot because they savor the deep fried batter. At least two people said asparagus in and of itself they could live without.
So the real reason they were eating deep fried asparagus was for the batter and grease, and not the asparagus.
I digress. It’s the sweet smell of almond blossoms and the three-times-a-day consumption of almonds that I care about.
Bees are busy and farmers are keeping their fingers crossed that 2 to 3 percent of the 300,000 to 400,000 blooms a mature almond tree can produce will actually get pollinated. If that happens they can produce anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of almond meats per acre each year.
I have a huge stake in all of this.
With 20-foot spacing, an acre of almonds would have 100 trees. And since I consume 58.5 pounds of almonds a year, if 2013 is a fairly decent year it’ll take one and a half trees to produce what I eat.
That might make a catchy slogan for Blue Diamond: “One and a half trees a year is all we ask.”
Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy the sweet scent of almond blossoms as I munch away on the 2012 crop.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209-249-3519.