Tuscan Biscotti. Courtesy ReformJudaism.org
On Tu B'Shvat it is customary to eat foods containing the seven species and to bless them. These are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates, and olives. Although not mentioned in Deuteronomy, almonds also figure prominently in this celebration, as they are the first tree to flower in Israel at that time of year. Almonds are considered to be the oldest cultivated nut, dating back 10,000 years. Some feel that the first documentation of almond cultivation was in the Torah, Numbers 17:23: “There the staff of Aaron of the house of Levi had sprouted: it had brought forth sprouts, produced blossoms, and borne almonds.” If this recipe looks similar to mandelbrodt, it could be the coincidence that Jews were sea traders, and sea traders took these hard, dry biscuits on board their ships for long voyages, knowing they would remain edible for months.