Tuesday, 30 November 2010

oranges are not the only fruit

...there was this American from the mid West and she was a really nice girl with two young boys - except that they won't be young anymore, they will be 19 and 17. I liked her very much although I didn't know many Americans in those days and so the whole Halloween/Thanksgiving thing was a bit of a mystery to me and when she said she was planning to eat lamb for Christmas I wondered if she was a bit odd. She also did scary, high concept stuff with napkins and when I went for lunch one day the Caesar salad was in individual parmesan cheese baskets and I was knocked back a bit because in those days I thought that taramasalata with pitta bread was quite outré.

Anyways (as MasterM would say) one day she asked me what the small orange fruits in the bowl were and I wondered if she was pulling my leg so I looked at her very, very carefully. She didn't blink so I said didn't they have clementines in America? And she said she had never, ever seen them before. And to this day I don't know if she was teasing me or if there really are no clementines in America and I worry about it quite a lot. Did she think that I thought she was stupid? Or did she just think that I was stupid.

23 comments:

  1. Ha! Well, speaking as ANOTHER midwestern person with two boys, I can assure all present that we do know about clementines. In fact, St. Nicholas will be putting some in my children's shoes next week.

    We have to get 'em from Spain, however. That is, our supermarket does. Not us personally. (I wish...)

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  2. We also have clementines here in the northwest, although I can only get the good ones in the winter and when we do I go through them in bushels. mmmmmmmm........

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  3. The whole mid West thing has thrown me off a bit here , but I can assure you from my perch on the East coast clementines are plentiful in America. Some are packaged in little wooden crates loosing all their charm being encased in plastic net and going by the name of Little Cutie.
    Today I saw lovely Satsumas with leaves intact at the market, I just love it when fruits still have their leaves.

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  4. We didn't have them when I was growing up in the Wisconsin. I had my first clementine in Los Angeles in about 1989. But when I moved back to the Midwest in 1999, there they were! So, you're friend may not have been pulling your leg at all, if you're talking about a long time ago...

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  5. Clementines are present here in Tuvalu as well. There is a pile of them on our dining table. They are best purchased between mid November and the New Year.

    I've had parmesan cheese baskets as well but that was quite a while ago.

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  6. Groan. That would be Wisconsin not the Wisconsin. And your friend, not you're friend.

    WV: untent. As in, it was not my untent to have so many typos.

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  7. One of my favourite citruses, after mandarins (tangerins? what would you call THOSE?).
    From ITALY though ... not Spain, preferably from the tree a few steps from my house.
    OK, I'll stop.

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  8. Tangerines are so much nicer than satsumas I think. Much sweeter.My daughter would live off them if she could.

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  9. I mean clementines of course not tangerines. My husband can never remember which ones are which and refers to them all as marmosets. Don't ask.

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  10. We just have mandarins here in Australia, and my English husband tries to explain to me the subtle differences between mandarins, satsumas and clementines and I just forget.

    I did on the other hand get a comment from a reader just this morning (from London) saying she had to google cumquats, when she saw the cumquat marmalade on my blog. And that confused me as I thought cumquats were global.

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  11. naartjes to you all

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  12. As Suse points out we only had manadarins in Australia so I am still unclear on the difference between the small citrus fruits and so have just convinced my children that all such are just 'baby oranges'!

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  13. no scurvy knaves around here I see

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  14. PS I am sure the limeys will enter the debate shortly ...

    WV: rulloc - sounds slightly rude

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  15. OK. Let's rewind for a moment. St Nicholas puts clementines in people's shoes? That makes for a sticky yuletide if you ask me.

    As a 'limey' I have no clue about citrus availability across the pond. I can talk like a pirate though: Arrgggh. Shiver me timbers and splice the mainbrace. Pass me the kumquats Jim-lad.

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  16. See what you did here? Sent sensible people quite potty.

    Your friend may simply have freakishly missed clementines somehow - two Christmases ago, I served a very traditional dinner, including roast potatoes and parsnips, to my brother in law (born Edinburgh, lives Glasgow, so hardly sheltered from life's rich tapestry) and found that he had no idea what the parsnips were. Had never been served or eaten one in all his 60+ years.

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  17. Parnsips !!! Fine words etc

    Second only to coffee cake in my book, although not at the same time of course

    WV: bedig (for Victory and coffee cake)

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  18. A little while ago (ie before Mrs M was born) her grandfather came to visit us as poor students in Cambridge. When he saw our enormous house pet, a hamster, running up the curtain he said he had just seen a whole tray of them at the railway station. Slightly surprised we quizzed him carefully. It turned out they were Kiwi fruits. Not exactly a citrus story but worth telling I thought.
    WV 'rites'. rites of passage? That's where the hamster cage was normally kept except during exercise periods.

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  19. Is MrsM moonlighting as Nell or Nigella Gwynne ?? I think we should be told

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  20. !!! (The comments.) I think it's possible she may not have ever had a clementine. I don't think they were widely available in my youth. Although they have been for the last ten years or so. Apparently, according to a thanksgiving guest, it's because a big freeze some years ago killed a lot of orange trees in California (or maybe Florida) and the groves were replanted with clementines because they grow faster.

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  21. I met a bloke in Sheffield who'd never had an orange till 1985, when he was 15.

    I don't really see how this helps you, though.

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  22. We do see clementines at this time of year: and occasionally we are lucky enough to happen upon satsumas: easier to peel and no seeds.
    But sometimes it does feel like we're the only ones who buy them....

    N.

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  23. I'm visiting my parents in Sydney at the moment and catching up on your posts with my iPhone...very slow going but this was a great read :-)

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