The ajoblanco, a refreshing almond cold soup, is a summer classic in Malaga. In the old times it was a daily summer dish, cheap and nutritious, as the almond was a humble nut always present even in the poorest rural homes, they only had to walk to the nearest almond tree to get them. It was, and still is, garnished with grapes, although today it is not easy to find the original ones from Malaga.
This is a very easy recipe, but we shouldn’t forget that our grand and great-grandmothers had no electric mixer, and made by hand with the mortar and pestle the fine paste for the ajoblanco. That’s not an easy task although they were well trained, using this instrument day by day to make the most of very few ingredients available in their kitchens.
By this time of the year, in June, we pick green fresh almonds from our trees, as these tender, milky and delicate nuts (leaving aside the fuzzy green shell) are the best to get a creamy and mild ajoblanco. Of course you can use dry nuts instead, fresh ones are available for a very short period and they are difficult (if not impossible) to find in the market.
To shell the almonds we still use an old “clavo” (an iron stick) kept at home for ages and polished by women’s hands. As a child, I used to imitate these women shelling almonds and sit by them with my back against the wall and a flat stone on my lap, crushing my fingers very often. Let me tell you that part of the cooking lesson is giving it a try!