A nut linked to gastronomic tradition
The almond is the main dry fruit grown in the province of Malaga, where its cultivation today accounts for more than 16,000 hectares with production of around 4,000 tons each season. In Malaga, the predominant varieties are Marcona, the Largueta and the Comuna, although in recent years the Guara also has been introduced. Of all almonds produced in the province of Malaga, the most appreciated and demanded is the Marcona. This variety, which is the earliest in this area, is especially characterized by its large and rounded shape. Especially abundant in the province of Malaga, it is also the most suitable for baking. In fact, it is considered the most delicate, but also the tastiest. The Larguetas almond are smaller and narrower and are often used directly as snacks. The Comuna almond, meanwhile, is really the result of different varieties and it is characterized by its versatility in cooking. Finally, the Guara is characterized for its late bloom-time.
There are many typical Malaga dishes with this nut playing a decisive role such as Ajoblanco (cold garlic soup), the Porra Blanca (denser than ajoblanco), the Chivo a la Pastoril (a goat dish), the Caldillo de Pintarroja (a soup dish) or meatballs in almond sauce. This nut is also a fundamental part of the pastry of the towns of the valley of Guadalhorce and Guadalteba or Axarquía, among others. This is appreciated in the Cartama cake (distributed only in Cartama), the biscuits from Ardales, the Cortijo bread (a sweet made in Cuevas de San Marcos from almonds and sugar), Mantecados, Polvorones and other homemade sweets that can be found in the bakeries of these regions. It is also a tradition to eat them roasted and salted in the city of Malaga. In fact, in its historic centre the tradition of nut street vending is still preserved. In several street stalls, scattered around the heart of the city, they are sold in paper cones as a healthy snack. The Almensur cooperative especially stands out as a leading company dedicated to almonds, whose farmers harvest hundreds of thousands of kilos of almonds a year. Even, sometimes, this company from the Valley of Guadalhroce transforms almonds into by-products such as pralines or nougats.
For centuries, its trees have populated the hills and slopes of regions like the Valley of Guadalhorce, Los Montes de Malaga or the Alta Axarquia. This tour includes several regions of Malaga, with very different landscape features, but all of which have a rooted almond cultivation. So from Periana to Ardales, there is a long journey that will help us understand the unusual images that this tree provides at certain times of the year.
The almond was possibly introduced by the Phoenicians, although it was the Arabs who took advantage of its culinary aspects the most. In fact from the old Al-Andalus until today we have many recipes of sweets and dishes in which almonds are the main ingredient. In fact, the traditional Malaga cuisine and, by extension, the Andalusian, cannot be understood today without one of its key ingredients, the almond, which has become next to olive oil and wine, one of the most rooted Mediterranean products.
This nut has not only enriched the gastronomy in the last millennium but it has also provided us with a spectacular scenery, especially in the months of tree blossoming, between January and February, when it turns into bright white and pinkish colours, which is prelude to Spring. The bonds of this nut with the province are also evident through traditions marked in the calendar of its Fiestas of Provincial Tourist Singularity. Among them is the Día del Almendro (Almendro Day) in Guaro; in Almogía; or the Fiesta of Ajoblaco in Almachar.