First of all, fuck almonds. Yes, I know they’re #3 on the list of Nuts, In Order, and yes, Balk knows peanuts are legumes and he does not give a fuck. But admit it, almonds are only good with a lot of IFs: IF they have some kind of flavoring, like tamari, smoke, chili, chocolate, pastel candy-coating if you’re at some kind of lame wedding or baby shower, or “like a rosemary maple situation,” if you’re fancy Billfold emerita, Megan Reynolds. Salt at the very least, otherwise you must hate yourself. Essentially, almonds are only good when you cover up or disguise everything that makes them an almond. Plain almonds are fine, not good, but only IF they are roasted, and otherwise they are like eating the shrivelled desiccated balls of a tiny dead dog that has somehow petrified into wood. They are the edible evil twin of the woody shell (endocarp) of stone fruit pits.
Don’t get me wrong, almonds are versatile and useful and extremely common nuts, and I treasure them. I eat them regularly, because they are the healthiest easiest snack. Almonds can be downright beautiful, but only when abstracted. Almond milk is useful for lactose reasons and fear of soy and also smoothies (but please don’t get me started on MALK, or that “milked walnuts” brand). Almond makes a very lovely, delicate smell for a soap. Almond oil is probably definitely healthy and makes a nice salad dressing. When I Google almonds, one of the first hits I get is “almonds before bed,” which is almost certainly a personalized search result based on other gross medical things I’ve Googled (apparently it helps you sleep, along with a glass of milk and a peaceful sense of calm).
Almonds start to get good when you take their skins off, which I’m sure reduces the fiber significantly, but whatever. Sliced, slivered, blanched: now we’re talking. Flourless chocolate cake? Mexican wedding cookies? Marzipan? Hell yes, all wonderful. None of this changes the fact that eating plain almonds tastes like punishment, i.e., wood chips. Why else would the opening montage of the “clackers” (a.k.a. Condé Nasties) from The Devil Wears Prada getting ready in the morning have one of them counting out individual almonds into a bowl for “breakfast” as a blatant contrast to Andi’s onion bagel?
Okay, you get it: almonds are problematic. Once there was an almond shortage in California when it didn’t rain enough, and now there might be one because it rained TOO much. But you know what is the easiest, best, and only truly good almond? The Marcona almond. These broad beauties are a specific cultivar grown in Spain, traditionally served blanched (naked of skins), fried in oil (yes, oil bombs fried in oil, how delightfully recursive!) and lightly salted. They are nothing like their sad, dry counterparts. They are slick, smooth, and crack nicely down the middle coronal seam like a well-manufactured Goldfish cracker. They are the best pre-dinner snack, along with some olives, cheese, and an aperitif. Or just on their own. They are also proof that everything is better fried in a little oil. Live a little! You will find that when you try them you will think, what is this magical nut that is nothing like any other nut I’ve had before but tastes somewhat like an almond but if an almond had the texture of a Macadamia nut? It is the Marcona almond, and it is the only truly good almond.