Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Food: my darling clementine

Get widget
The best clementines come from Spain, where all of the fruit is amazing. 

So says my Spanish daughter. 

I am sure it is true. But those clementines will not be here until Christmas. We must wait to confirm her truth.  

This clementine is here now, a small sweet wallop of flavor imported from Peru. 

For all the trouble it takes to get it here, it is amazingly easy to eat. 

Usually I have eaten one before I even notice, the simplicity of eating lost in a preoccupation with something else - reading, checking Facebook, talking, watching TV. I reach for another, the first having barely registered. 

But today, I decided to be intentional about my little clementine. 
Woman with an Orange, Jules Joseph Lefebvre (1836-1911)

I want to know that I am going to eat, that I am eating, that I had eaten it. 

I want to remember the experience. 

To honor its journey from another hemisphere into my privileged American belly. 

To be present with the fruit. 

(Go ahead, get your fruit joke out of the way, you know you can't help it. Ok, moving on...)

I remove the small slightly flattened orange orb from the bag. I turn it in my hand. Pretty shiny skin, rich and perfect. 

I easily poke my thumb into the center divot at the top.

The sting surprises me. The fruit bites back, the hard button on the stem end cutting just a little under my thumb nail, stinging the tender pink ridge just at the edge of the nailbed.

I suck my thumb to relieve the sting. then I push on, working my digit underneath the thin peel protecting the fruit. The skin is firm but thin, a courteous guardian protecting the juicy interior but releasing easily when asked.

As I peel, the pores of the skin pop and spurt essence of orange, filling my nostrils with a heady fresh smell of the tropics and waking my brain. 

There is a reason citrus peel is called the zest. 

I taste the orange oil before taking a bite of the fruit. I close my eyes and breathe deeply, letting the complex aroma fill my head with cleanliness and sunshine. 

Soon the flesh is naked, the small segments clinging to each other, side to side around an axis of air, snugged together with a network of white filaments like a crocheted bunting.

My thumb slips into the core, splitting the fruit into equal halves, 7 sections each. Seven. The number of completion. 

One by one, I remove a section, peeling it carefully away from its neighbors, removing the fine white matrix that has bound it. I observe it, turning it over and feeling its curves and texture.

I pop it into my mouth, and feel the firm texture of the plump membrane stuffed full of juice and pulp.

I bite, and feel the juice release from the hundreds of sacs. My taste buds come alive with the sweet sour juice, urging my tongue not to miss a drop. 

My nose verifies what my tongue communicates to my brain. This is good - no rot, not too tart, not too cloying, refreshing. 

Segment follows segment, a sensual dance of fingers and flesh, scent and saliva, teeth and tongue, and then there is no more.

My fingers are sticky from the oil of the zest and the juice of the fruit that is now gone, only the skin torn like parchment remaining.

But the fruit is not gone. It is now in me, its juice and its zestiness, its fiber and filaments, its vitamins and glucose, sunshine stored from the Southern hemisphere nourishing my cells. 

As I catch a whiff of the oil lingering on my fingertips, I remember. And I am thankful. 

No comments :

Post a Comment

Have something to add? Let me know what you think!