Maria Simona's story
Do you know how Spain’s famous Turron was born?
Thanks to Maria-Simona!
Maria-Simona, a young Valencian shepherdess from the province of Valencia in Spain. This fiery-eyed young lady worked with her family in the mountains overlooking the plains, tending her father’s sheep and a few goats all around Jijona, a small fortified village built flush with the rock to protect itself from foreign attacks and invasions.
The stones of the houses change color with the light of the different hours of the day, and the fragrances wafting through the narrow, winding streets intoxicate the curious pilgrims who make the effort to climb the mountain to the church overlooking a vast, still wild country: fresh morning dew, waking and quivering bark and moss, boxwood and cork oak at midday zenith, and finally thyme, rosemary and the thousand and one aromatic plants that have basked in the sun during the day, delivering their sweet, warm scents as they mingle with the sea spray. In this region, the wind is as indomitable as the goats that leap from rock to pasture on the slopes of the verdant mountains. It’s even said to drive people mad…
One windy day, Maria-Simona escapes from the pastures, abandoning her flock to run lightly and discreetly through the trees, far from her father’s gaze: she’s going to meet Diego, the handsome village soldier, with sun-kissed skin and soft, sultry lips, who will take her away from the sheep and her daily toil.
She’s 20, and love gives her wings as she hurtles down the winding slopes of sun-drenched hillsides… She wrapped her hair in a black scarf and pulled up her petticoats so as not to be hindered in her race towards the dark eyes of the man who makes her heart beat.
At last she arrives under the great hundred-year-old olive tree: Diego is waiting for her, smiling, his chest straight and proud as he is in battle. And with the elegance and grace of the noble knights who gave their lives for King James I, he takes her in his arms, draws her to him and holds her close to his heart.
She drops the small wicker basket containing freshly sun-dried almonds and the small jar of abuelita (grandmother’s) honey. Feliza, to kiss him, abandoning herself in his passionate arms. The sun floods the valley and the tall grass shelters the lovers’ fiery lovemaking in the shade of the old olive tree.
As Maria-Simona stood up again, she noticed that the jar had tipped over in the basket and that the honey had spilled onto the almonds. The sun and heat have crystallized the mixture into a soft, golden paste that she brings to her mouth: this mishmash is at once surprising and delicious, as soft as it is sweet, as creamy as it is crunchy,melt in your mouth yet firm. What a discovery !
And so, in 1835, Maria-Simona’s famous turron was born. God created the almond, Maria-Simona gave it its letters of nobility.
*The character Maria Simona and the situations in this story are purely fictitious, any resemblance to existing or former people or situations is purely coincidental.