Day 28.

August 5, 2013

The one with the alfarobba

About three months ago we were wild camping in Odeceixe in a forest near the beach. Odeceixe Praia (Portuguese for beach) is a really small town with only two small restaurants and one little bar. The second time I went to the bar I noticed a big jar full of dried long brown bean-like things on the counter and I asked the owner what they were. “Alfarobba” he answered, “Here try one, but don’t eat the seeds.” A bit hesitant I tasted the strange-looking dried fruit, but I immediately liked the sweet chocolaty flavor. It was an unexpected taste, but a very nice one. We discovered that they originally came from Morocco and that there are a lot of trees in the south of Spain and Portugal nowadays. In English they are called carob beans and after some research I found out that they have some nice health benefits as well.

  • Carob tannins contain Gallic acid that works as an analgesic, anti-allergic, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral and antiseptic.
  • Carob improves digestion and lowers cholesterol level in the blood.
  • It is used for treating diarrhea in children and adults alike.
  • Since it does not contain caffeine, carob benefits people with high blood pressure.
  • Regular use of carob helps in preventing lung cancer.
  • The vitamin E content in carob helps in treating cough, flu, anemia and osteoclasis.
  • The Gallic acid in carob helps in preventing and treating polio in children.
  • Carob fights against osteoporosis, due to its richness in phosphorus and calcium.
  • Carob pod husks are chewed by singers to clear the voice and throat.
  • You read about the wonderful positive effects of this bean on teething babies and more: here.

Since that day it has always been a wish of mine to find one of those trees in the wild and be able to pluck my own fruits. Yesterday was that day! We had put up our tent somewhere near the botanic garden outside Malaga and when I woke up I heard cutting noises in a three nearby. I decided to check out what was happening and spotted a guy hanging in a tree cutting stuff away. I had no idea what he was cutting, but didn’t want to disturb him, so I left. After a while the noises died out and I went back to the same spot. This is when I realized I had found my first wild Alfarobba tree, with lots of ready-to-pick fruit. Or at least I thought so, they were a bit green on the inside and when I tried one it didn’t taste at all like the ones I had in Odeceixe. I guess they need some more drying time and I hope they will be ready soon.