This biblical tree which occurs where soil is poor in upland wastes in Calabria, in stony deserts in Catalonia, on impoverished hillsides in Greece, is a singular sign of Providence operating in the desert. It bears very large pods, the colour of burnt umber when ripe in autumn, which are sweet in taste and velvety in texture, with a vanilla flavour.
These are said to be the ‘locusts’ eaten by St John the Baptist. You munch them and spit out the shiny seeds.
Of particular interest to me, these seeds provided the original ‘carat’ weight of jewellers. The pods are sold on market stalls in winter in the Veneto. In the Salento you pick your own. A pod or two enter into the infusion of macchia plants used to swill out the wine barrels, before filling them again at the vendemmia.