Almonds

I start and end my day with almonds. The firm resistance of them between my teeth, their satisfying heft in the mouth, their subtle floral flavor when raw: These traits, in addition to their renowned health properties, make almonds one of my favorite snacks.

I used to favor toasted almonds (and certainly, they are what’s called for in many applications). But I’ve come to appreciate the nuance of raw almonds, the delicacy of their flavor in contrast to the deep, round brashness of their toasted counterparts, they way they yield, ever-so-slightly, when chewed, rather than shattering in an immediately gratifying explosion of crunch.

Almonds can easily go sweet, or savory. They’re equally at home toasted and sprinkled over a salad, ground into a meal to form the basis of a moist and flavorful cake, sliced and added to cookies, incorporated into a filling for stuffed vegetables, made into rich butter or delicate milk. You can eat them with cereal or yogurt for a hearty and nourishing breakfast, or stir Amaretto or Orgeat into your coffee for a hit of sweetness with unmistakable bitter almond flavor.

I’m highly discomfited by talk of drought, bee problems, and impending almond shortages. This article from the BBC covers almonds’ dramatic rise to prominence, their nutritional benefits, and the phenomenon of “nut nappers” who steal almonds from California farms, as well as the climate conditions that may well make them scarce and expensive.

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