The pale pink, lightly scented blossoms of the almond tree are a harbinger of Spring in Cyprus.
The pale pink, lightly scented blossoms of the almond tree are a harbinger of Spring in Cyprus. The tree was brought to the island in antiquity from Western Asia and has since been cultivated for the nut found inside the stone of its fruit. Almond nuts can be eaten raw and are a good source of protein and fibre. In Cyprus, almonds are most frequently encountered in beloved desserts. Daktyla, for example, are made by coating a thin layer of pastry with a paste of chopped almonds, cinnamon, sugar, and rosewater and rolling it into a tube; the tube is fried in oil and drizzled with a syrup made from honey, lemon peel, cinnamon, and cloves. During the fall harvest, treats made from almonds are featured in village grape festivals. White grapes are crushed, heated to form a syrup, and then combined with flour to form a kind of jelly known as palouzes. Though palouzes can be enjoyed on its own, it is also an essential ingredient in soutzoukos, the distinctive sweet in which almonds are threaded on a string and then dunked into the jelly; look for these candle-shaped delicacies in the sweet shops of Geroskipou village near Pafos. Other popular treats that contain almonds include kataifi (nests of phyllo stuffed with nuts and syrup) and glygo amygalo (preserved almonds). To celebrate the arrival of Spring, Almyra commissioned Yiannis Sakelis to paint an almond tree in bloom on its garden wall. It’s a sign of sweet things to come!