Remembering An Orange

Happy. I had not heard that word since Mr. Milgrom spoke it at the last Hanukkah. I asked him the question that had been on my mind since then. “Tata, what is happy?” He looked at me and at the ceiling and back to me. “Did you ever taste an orange?” he said.

~ Jerry Spinelli

Sitting in the morning stillness, as I was peeling a Cara Cara orange for my breakfast, the fresh, tangy-sweet citrus filled my senses. My mouth watered. I immediately plunged into a whirlwind of thoughts …about oranges!

I thought of how I love fresh oranges but detest orange juice. I enjoy eating Chinese Orange Chicken but turn my nose up at marmalade on toast. I remembered how much I used to like eating an orange and a banana at the same time. First eating an orange segment, then following with a bite of banana — the best tart and sweet combination, ever! Oh, does anyone else remember orange/banana flavoured Jello?

My mind wandered to childhood winters when I eagerly looked forward to our first box of mandarins of the season —Christmas Oranges, we called them. In those days, the small, round fruit came packed in a small wooden crate, each orange wrapped in green tissue paper. I remember how my siblings and I would marvel at how easy they were to peel and how sweet each little segment tasted. I remember the pure joy those oranges brought us!

Every December, when I was a child, my mother would help us make orange pomanders. We would make simple patterns on oranges by poking small holes in the skin. When we were satisfied with our designs, we would insert cloves into the holes. My mother would bake the spice encrusted fruit in a slow oven until they were hardened. Later, we would add ribbons or bits of lace and adorn the living room with our creations. The bright citrus aroma of the oranges mixed with the spicy cloves filled our house with the scent of Christmas!

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

As I inhaled the scent of my orange, pictures of orange-flavoured candy and sweets danced into my head. Christmas treats like Terry’s Chocolate Orange, made from orange-infused chocolate, shaped just like the fruit. Orange jelly slices — artificially flavoured and covered in sparkly, white sugar. Candied orange peel, and that [shudder] orange cream hiding in the box of assorted chocolates. I saw them all set before me clearly in my mind’s eye.

Somehow these memories led me to reminisce about my favourite quick bread recipe, Oatmeal Orange muffins. The secret to these moist and delicious muffins was soaking the oatmeal in orange juice and adding a little orange zest to enhance the flavour. I lost the recipe long ago, but a quick Google search found a couple of versions. If you want to try these sunshine delights here is the recipe!

Then I started thinking about the different kinds of oranges you can buy at the market. Navel oranges with their funny belly buttons; round Valencia oranges; the deep, red flesh of Blood oranges; Mandarins, of course, and the pretty Satsuma oranges. Sweet, juicy and oh, so fragrant!

I put a luscious segment in my mouth, and my thoughts turned other ways to use an orange. I imagined a beautiful glass bottle filled with olive oil infused with orange peel and a sprig or two of rosemary or basil, a delicious dressing for a dinner salad or the perfect hostess gift. Oranges are great to use to make citrus sugar or citrus extract powder. Try some of these great ideas on the blog, One Good Thing

As I ate the last of my orange, my thoughts — were centred around one of my most beautiful Mother’s Day gifts — a lovely, indoor orange tree. I can see it in my mind’s eye the tiny white blossoms nestled in the dark green leaves — a few baby oranges hanging from the branches. I loved to breathe in the delicate, orange perfume of the flowers. Alas, this thoughtful gift did not last long (not an unexpected event in my house — I LOVE plants, but I have the opposite of a green thumb!!) If I had read this helpful guide, How to Care for an Indoor Orange Tree, that tree might have survived!

All these reveries from the scent of a freshly peeled orange! What smells and aromas evoke your memories? Share your thoughts in the comments.

5 Comments on “Remembering An Orange

  1. The smell of an unpeeled orange is a vivid memory of Christmas growing up in England. We didn’t have oranges during the year at that time, so each Christmas there was one in our stocking. These were Seville oranges and they were definitely not sweet. When we ate them, we would cut a hole in the top and put in a sugar cube. I still have my Christmas stocking, it’s over seventy years old, but if you hold it up to your nose, you will catch the very faint scent of oranges.

    • Thank you for sharing that lovely memory! I’ve never tasted a Seville orange — I have heard that they are bitter or sour.

  2. For me, it’s clementines when we can get decent ones and a glass of orange juice to start my day every morning.

    • I like clementines, too — but I start my mornings with a steaming mug of strong, black coffee! I rarely drink juice (of any kind), but do like cooking with juice, especially o.j. Thank you for the comment!