A citrusy season
Blog: Nosh On
January 24, 2012
If they work out right, January and February can be bright, cheery months. Lots of snow will lighten up an otherwise dark evening and inspire loads of baking.
When snow stops, though, there’s still opportunity to brighten up the day. Citrus. Doesn’t that just make you smile?
Think of the produce aisle at your grocery store and take a big whiff. Picture the mountains of oranges, lemons and grapefruits. It’s enough to make a person swoon.
A few days ago, I walked down to Safeway and stopped cold next to a citrus display. There, the air was steeped in the scent of sweet grapefruits. They were so plump and inviting. Then I saw, tucked away in a box below, a bunch of unassuming little olive-sized kumquats.
The last time I’d seen a kumquat was four years ago in Florida. There was a small tree on a restaurant patio full of the ripe little things. I wanted to try one. I was so curious, but it wasn’t my tree and I wasn’t sure if they were ripe. Plus, what if I had been wrong and the tree was some sort of ornamental and the kumquats weren’t kumquats at all, and instead were some sort of poisonous fool’s kumquat berry? Or what if I got caught? That’s too many “what ifs” for me. Every so often, I think about the tree and regret my hesitation that day. What’s the worst that could have happened? (I could have ended up in the hospital with fool’s kumquat poisoning, that’s what.)
Back at Safeway, I stared down at the box. I took a plastic bag and picked out a couple of handfuls of the tiny orange-like fruits. After I got home, I got up the nerve to try one, knowing that they’re like bizarro oranges, with bitter, tart flesh and a sweet rind.
Going against almost everything I’ve learned about citrus fruit, I popped the whole thing in my mouth, no peeling, nothing.
There’s nothing quite comparable to a kumquat. They’re sweet at first then sour enough to make you pucker a little, then sweet again as you chew the rind. Eating them is such a novel experience, mostly in their mind-over-matter matter. They’re also kind of addictive and so much fun, and sure to brighten up your mouth, if not your month.