This is a partial view of the farmhouse in San Ferdinando di Puglia where my husband spent his childhood summers. He climbed trees, rode his bicycles, tortured lizards and played with a multitude of cousins, but also was expected to do his share of chores.
One chore he remembers fondly was the cleaning of the almonds. This is a job that has several steps to it. First you have to gather the almonds from the trees. Then you have to remove their furry green outer covering. Next, you have to crack the hard shell that contains the fruit. Finally, you have to remove the hard shell and seperate the shells from the almonds.
The children were paid something equivalent to 10 cents per kilo of clean almonds. The job was done sitting together around a large table with the nuts in their shells in the center. Each child tried to accumulate the largest possible pile of clean almonds, to earn more money at the end of the day. The fun was in trying to distract the others and steal a few of their clean almonds while they weren't looking!
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