Aylin Öney Tan - firstname.lastname@example.orgAlmond blossoms are among the first to prelude the joyous spirit of spring in the air. Following the almond blossoms, plum trees burst into full bloom, soon to be followed by the adorable cherry flowers. Apricot, peach and quince trees soon join the rite of spring with all blossoms culminating in a sweet-scented visual symphony. Almond blossoms may be leading this symphony of senses but they are also the unfortunate ones to suffer the cruel bites of frost. This spring, almond blossoms in Anatolia were not alone. Unexpected April snowfalls in central and eastern Turkey caught all fruit trees without notice, blanketing the spring sprouts and blossoms.
Snow and almond blossoms have a history. Once upon a time there was a Moorish caliph who married a beautiful Nordic princess. They were living a lavish life in “Al-Gharb,” an Arabic name given to the lovely region, simply meaning “The West.” Al-Gharb, today’s Algarve in southern Portugal, really was the most Western tip of the Moorish Iberia, and Algarve actually gets its name from this Moorish name for the region. However, the Nordic lady was never happy in this fruitful land of bounty. One day, seeing his dear wife crying watching the green hills of Al-Gharp, the caliph suddenly realizes the poor princess is terribly homesick, missing the snowcapped mountains of her native land. There was no way he could alter the seasons and bring snow to the green slopes, but instead he came up with a brilliant idea. He ordered his men to plant almond trees all over, so that each spring the hills of the western lands would become like the northeast, painted in white with the snowy white blossoms of the almond trees. He kept his order a secret and waited patiently for the spring to come. The next spring his deeply saddened wife woke to a miracle. She thought for a moment that she was back home; the lawns and hills beyond their castle were all under a blanket of fairy whiteness as if covered with snow. Since then almond blossoms have been a symbol of Algarve and needless to say almonds have remained a main feature of Algarve cuisine.
Anatolian almond trees do not have such a romantic story to tell, but on the other end of the Mediterranean, they share the same joyous spirit of early spring, even if they suffer under the frost of snow. This early April has been a peculiar time to celebrate spring & snow together; now let’s have a taste resembling snow yet tasting of spring, remembering the romance of the Nordic princess and her Moorish love!
Bite of the week
Recipe of the Week: This cloudy foamy “apple snow” is the lightest recipe ever, just fit for the dieting days of spring. Peel, core and quarter 4 red apples. With a potato peeler shave only the yellow part of a lemon. Put the apples and yellow peel in a saucepan with a few drops lemon juice to prevent discoloring. Add just a little water to cover the bottom of the pan and cook covered until the apples are thoroughly cooked. Discard the lemon peel and whizz the apple or pass through a sieve. Transfer the apple pulp to a glass bowl and mix with 4 tablespoons of rose petal jam. The rose jam will add a wonderful taste and the traces of rose petal will shine through the snow giving rosy tints. One of the best rose jams on the market is the Nar Gourmet brand found in good delicatessens and high-end markets. Cover the apple purée and cool in the fridge. Meanwhile, whisk 3 egg whites to a stiff peak; while whisking, add 3 heaped tablespoons of powdered sugar. You may wish to add a drop of almond or vanilla essence at this point, but if you want only the lemony rose and apple flavor to shine through the snow, just omit the other flavorings. Fold in the snowy egg whites to the apple purée, taking care not to lose the airiness. Divide into pretty crystal cups, coupe glasses or any stemmed glasses. Let cool in the fridge a few hours to firm. Garnish with slivered almonds and serve. If you can get ahold of a few fresh or dried rose petals, candied rose petals or just pretty spring flowers, adorn your apple snow with a touch of flower.
Event of the Spring: No doubt Cappodox Festival will become the event of this spring and many springs to come. Famous for its peculiar rock formations known as “fairy chimneys,” Cappadocia has been home to countless civilizations, all leaving their unique mark in the region. The PozitifLive group has been shaping the cultural landscape of Istanbul for the past 25 years - starting from Babylon they created of Akbank Jazz Festival, the One Love Festival, the Blues Festival and the Mono Festival - the group is now aiming to sprout an annual spring meeting of contemporary art, music and gastronomy. The events will take place May 16-18. Check for updates at http://www.cappadox.com/en/festival. Do not forget to book a room from the list of recommended hotels on Cappadox.com to get special discounted rates until April 16. Do not miss this unique organization!