Pala Nuts

girls 04

Such Extraordinary Examples of Destiny Saviours …… SEEDS, nuts and fruits are rather miraculous capsules of DNA offering eternal life. Luckily we have worldwide Seed Banks to help and teach us.

The seed banks are indispensable; a library of publicly exchangeable information for those busy with Nature’s wiles as well as a fail safe for the armageddon believers. We, at times, pragmatic creatures are ready to protect Nature’s bounty from our own destruction for future generations. Millions of fantastical capsules are scattered around us ready to share their wonder and beauty via farming, gardening, feeding and cooking. I’m sure our taste buds will have their sensibilities honed when presented with the cornucopia of harvests potentially available.

So does my picture tell a thousand words?

The seeds, nuts and fruit in my homemade panforte have their own tales to tell. How they were planted, watered, picked and preserved not to mention sorted, transported and chucked onto the supermarket’s conveyor belt.

girls 03Looking back it would seem my recipe for a favourite sweetmeat was collated over the years from everywhere between the modern and historical combinations until a classic concoction ensconced itself into my taste banks awakening those salivary sensibilities. Admittedly, every time I taste my concoction there is often a surprise to be discovered.

 To begin with, the ground almonds and hazelnuts found themselves flying together in the mixing bowl having been rooted out of the back of the kitchen cupboard from between the cornflour, rice and curly pasta. The chopped candied fruit, darling pieces of date, brainy walnuts, sunflower seeds, dried figs and cracked pistachio plus pine nuts leapt in next; blithely befriending the their crushed compatriots.

girls 02No chocolate was used and only a smattering of wheat flour and deep orange turmeric found itself thrown in to bind the sweet, hearty ingredients. The dark linseed, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamon spices give a deep colour to my creation lovingly massaged with a handful of melted salted butter.

Cupping the nutmeg I’m often reminded of the hard nut having been one of those historical bodies  on the Banda islands in the Moluccas. Known as Pala in Indonesian the nut’s discovery by the European traders caused a stir between the conquering colonial nations during the 1500s. However, the Roman Pliny and ancient Indian writings already mentioned the exceptional properties found in the fruit of the plant Myristica Fragrans. Being also indigenous to the Indian and Australasian continents it made headway along the ancient spice routes to the American and European kitchens. It’s value as a preserving, medicinal and flavouring agent hundreds of years ago gave it a prized place in the spice rack offering financial riches.

Stirring and pressing the luscious ingredients into the cake tin they resembled a seriously unappetising lump awaiting the oven’s first aid blast of heat. Leaving the panforte to rest and mature for at least a week after cogirls 01oking an unending joy appears with every mouthful as you bite into the inviting mass. However as with every surprise the turmeric measurement this time took up rather too much of the taste buds waking moments. I heard one guest say, ‘It tastes lovely however there was a rather large hint of the Bombay Mix about the sweetmeat this time,’ haha, a promised eastern delight in disguise!

Gwen Jenner –

Instagram: @gwen_jenner

Twitter: @gwenjenner

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