Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore
(Feast of the Flowering Almond Tree)
While the rest of Italy is still in the grips of Winter, Sicily is celebrating its thaw and the promise of spring. This is announced by the fragrant blossoms peeking out on the almond trees. And during the first weeks of February an almond festival is held in Agrigento in the midst of the Greek ruins and intertwined with almond trees and orange groves. Local singers and dancers will show off their talent while the townspeople and visitors will sample the region’s delicacies and enjoy the festivities.
There are eighteen varieties of almond grown in Sicily and almonds are a fundamental ingredient in Sicilian cooking from soups to stews to sweets. Many of the dishes reflect a strong Arabic influence. In a convent near Palermo, Nuns still make marzipan and shape and paint it into many different designs.
NOTE: With the Pandemic, difficult to know what if anything has been occurring. But what a shame to shun tradition.
Agrigento is a hilltop city on Sicily’s southwest shore and filled with history. It is said that Sicilians are a romance speaking people. However and sadly, a little of that is lost as the younger people are moving away from their native language to speak what they feel is a more proper Italian.
Fiore Di Mandorlo
Makes about 30 cookies or biscotti
- 4 cups of ground almonds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 or 2 egg whites – use as needed
- icing sugar to sprinkle on
- Preheat oven to 300º.
- Mix together the ground almonds, sugar, honey, cinnamon and lemon zest with enough egg white to make a firm paste. Do not worry if you do not use all the whites. Knead until smooth.
- Shape into rounds (like little balls with tops slightly flattened) and bake on a greased baking pan for about 20 minutes.
- Let cool for 10 minutes on pan and then remove to rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, sprinkle with icing sugar.