Q travel: with BAR­RIE MAHONEY

‘Twit­ters from the At­lantic'

Q Magazine - - News -

Bar­rie Mahoney was a head teacher and school in­spec­tor in the UK, as well as a re­porter in Spain, be­fore mov­ing to the Ca­nary Is­lands to launch and edit a new English lan­guage news­pa­per. He en­joys life in the sun as a colum­nist and au­thor, and con­tin­ues to write a se­ries of pop­u­lar nov­els and books for ex­pats. The Ca­nary Is­lands were the cross­roads be­tween Europe and the Amer­i­cas for many years. As a re­sult, the is­lands can boast a rich and var­ied cui­sine, of­fer­ing a unique blend of flavours that is in­flu­enced by Africa, Europe and Amer­ica. With­out go­ing into too much de­tail here, there is ac­cu­mu­lat­ing ge­netic ev­i­dence which sug­gests that much of the ma­te­rial used for hor­ti­cul­ture in the Amer­i­cas came di­rectly from the Ca­nary Is­lands. These is­lands had cen­turies of trade with Ber­bers, Phoeni­cians, and other eth­nic­i­ties in Morocco, but were only un­der Span­ish con­trol for about 50 years be­fore Colum­bus. Many be­lieve that the boom­ing al­mond trade in the United States orig­i­nates from the Ca­nary Is­lands.

Many peo­ple do not give much thought to al­monds, but they have al­ways been a most im­por­tant part of the cui­sine of the Ca­nary Is­lands. Al­mond prod­ucts are many and var­ied, and used in bis­cuits and cakes. Al­monds can also be mashed into a paste that can be spread on bread - a bit like peanut but­ter, but with­out the but­ter. Al­mond milk, al­mond drinks, al­mond wine and marzi­pan, as well as al­mond cakes can eas­ily be found in shops and mar­kets on the is­lands for most of the year.

Al­mond trees are found on the greener parts of the Ca­nary Is­lands. In Pun­tagorda, on the is­land of La Palma, a beau­ti­ful fes­ti­val is held at the end of Jan­uary or be­gin­ning of Fe­bru­ary each year. Parts of Gran Canaria and Tener­ife be­come spec­tac­u­lar gar­dens of pink and white blos­som, par­tic­u­larly around San­ti­ago del Teide and the slopes of Vi­laflor in Tener­ife.

In Gran Canaria, a visit to the Al­mond Flower Fes­ti­val in the vil­lage of Te­jeda is al­ways a must-visit desti­na­tion at this time of the year. The fes­ti­val has been cel­e­brated in this beau­ti­ful vil­lage since 1972, which acts as a re­minder of the im­por­tance of al­monds to the bak­ing in­dus­try of the is­lands. Danc­ing and songs against the spec­tac­u­lar and colour­ful back­drop of the al­mond trees can be an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence.

Crowds of peo­ple make their way singing and danc­ing to na­tive gui­tar mu­sic on the nar­row road lead­ing to the church. Many dress in na­tional cos­tume for the event and there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to sam­ple the lo­cal wine and al­mond based prod­ucts. There are also op­por­tu­ni­ties to watch the al­monds be­ing cracked and maybe hear al­mond pickers speak­ing about their trade.

Spain is the world's sec­ond largest al­mond pro­ducer af­ter the United States, and with a large pro­por­tion pro­duced in the Ca­nary Is­lands. It is no won­der that these nuts are so highly prized, and well worth hav­ing a party to cel­e­brate. It is also worth re­member­ing where the nuts come from.

If you en­joyed this ar­ti­cle, take a look at my web­sites: http://bar­riema­honey.com and http://theca­nary­is­lander.com or read my lat­est book, ‘Liv­ing in Spain and the Ca­nary Is­lands' (ISBN: 9780995602724). Avail­able in pa­per­back, as well as Kin­dle edi­tions. Join me on Face­book: @bar­rie.mahoney

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