Tag Archives: oranges

Mysterious Produce of Washington Heights

According to New York City’s Department of City Planning, between 80% to 90% of my neighbors are of “Hispanic Origin (of any race)” — but anyone who’s been to this part of Washington Heights knows almost everyone here is from the Dominican Republic. As a result, I often run into fruits and vegetables that I’ve never eaten or even seen before.

Recently, when I saw naranja agria, I remembered enough high school Spanish to know it meant “bitter orange” but I had no idea what anyone would want to do with them. Eat them? Juice them? Pity them for looking like they do?

you'd be bitter too, if you were this ugly

My husband theorized, “I’d be bitter, too, if I were that ugly.”

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Overheard at the Breakfast Counter

We were having breakfast with a couple of our friends. The restaurant we had chosen was one of those places that pop up in the more trendier of the Seattle neighborhoods and serve all-natural, organic foods. Whole grain toasts, mushroom omelettes made with fungus found recently in the Pacific Northwest, and freshly squeezed orange juice all peppered the menu written in chalk upon the wall.

It’s the orange juice which caused the most consternation within the staff. When the juicer was on it whirred and whizzed so loudly that the patrons of this restaurant had to speak notably louder in order to be heard. Additionally, the amount of oranges required to fill a single order ensured that the juicer would be on for minutes at a time. When a group of people ordered orange juice, it meant that the juicer could run as long as six minutes.

So it should come to no surprise that when people order orange juice in this restaurant, the workers behind the counter can be heard to mutter “Ah, hell”, from time to time.

This isn’t a post on customer service, but rather a simple nod to the fact that whether you choose to participatein whatever food movement floats your boat, that choice comes with a benefit and a cost. For those folks behind the counter making the fresh orange juice, the benefit was the ability to call themselves a “all-natural, made-fresh restaurant” and all of the other benefits that those types of labels infer. The cost? The cost is that making fresh orange juice can be a pain in the tuckus.


Citrus

Citrus fruits have been domesticated by humans since at least 4000 BC.

As opening lines go, the above isn’t really a catchy one, but it is the truth. As I’ve company visiting me this week, catchy will have to take a back seat for a while.

“Citrus” is a common term, covering a vast array for plants in the family Rutaceae. The weird thing is, the citrus you and I know today, probably didn’t exist back in the day. For example – The Navel orange was a bud sport from an orange in Bahia, Brazil, which was introduced into southern California in 1871. In 1913, the pink grapefruit cultivar was discovered. The Blood Orange has come onto the scene only within the past 100 years. The citrus fruits that most of us take for granted are simply decendants of a very few select fruits.

The best information we have indicates that the following were most likely the first citrus fruits that humans had domesticated:

  • Citrus maxima, aka the pummelo (Malaysia)
  • Citrus medica, aka the citron (India)
  • Citrus reticulata, aka the mandarin (China)

I’ll over more of these details soon enough. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be covering and researching the citrus fruits. Recipes and tips and hints and other such stuff will be (ahem) on the menu.

Technorati Tags: Food, Citrus