Two candy-themed posts in a row. I just know CurlyWurlyGurly is going to sic her bloodthirsty lawyers on me: take them off their retainers or something.
The Pope’s been in the news lately, swinging through the Middle East, preaching and doing other popely things. Earlier today, much earlier since it’s many time zones in advance of us (well, me), Benedict XVI was in Amman, Jordan, saying good words, serving up poached eggs and ham and doing other benedicty things. Jordan is, it seems, somewhat of a haven for Christians in the what’s-the-opposite-of-godforsaken Middle East, with over 40,000 refugees from Iraq alone. The more astute of my readers will already have seen where I’m heading with this post. Jordan almonds : Amman, Jordan.
That’s right. I’m wondering if there’s a connection. In truth, I wondered this way back in my youth but never bothered to investigate for two reasons: (1) I liked regular almonds better and (2) the teensy nation of Jordan was a third of the world away. Besides, the notion that Ankara, Turkey might have something to do with the dinosaur Ankylosaurus was far more interesting, not that I took the energy to follow up on that either.
Poking around the dub-dub-dub, I learned two things about Jordan almonds. The first is that they’re a traditional accompaniment to weddings (how did I not know this?). Jordan almonds, the explanation goes, symbolize in their dual tastes the bittersweet nature of marriage; Oh joy. The second lesson learned is that, although a lot of outfits are willing to sell you some, they all regurgitate the same cribbed Cliff Notes history of the treat, referencing them to their other name, confetti, which they are quick to point out has little or nothing to do with scraps of multicolored paper such as we know today. Good thing, too: I really don’t think parade honorees would be thrilled to have tons of candy-coated almonds dropped on them from any significant height. Another waystation in the history of Jordan almonds is the word dragée, which comes from Old French and, depending on ones source, mean dredge (as in through sugar) or come from the Greek, having something to do with dried fruits. In any case, it’s irrelevant. Why? Because the pope, whatever else his failings may be, is neither a dragon nor a druggie.
On to the true etymology of the Jordan in Jordan almonds. A few dictionaries trace the derivation to an alteration of the French jardyne or jardin, meaning ‘garden,’ and then reference the term jardiniêre, which turns out to mean either vegetables diced and glazed or an ornamental plant stand. Maybe the glazed and ornamental senses inform jordan almonds, but I find it tenuous at best.
Can I have some Sno-Caps please? Nothing compares. Unless you get some which are made with something better than tawdry Nestlé chocolate. Non-pareils indeed!