Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ORANGE APPEAL / As If For the First Time

(This is the first in a new series of reflections, As If For the First Time, describing the most commonplace of experiences through a fresh lens, one of innocence and wonder.)

With the possible exception of apples and bananas, the orange is probably the most common fruit most of us here in the USA know.

But, like so many of Nature's little wonders, the moment we start seeing it as if for the first time, the orange turns into something quite sensational.


PEEL-AWAY PACKAGING
First of all, just look at the color. How many foods are truly orange? Okay, carrots, peaches, maybe a good yam, but an orange is the only one with that semi-gloss surface that so deepens and intensifies the color.

Once you've broken through the tough skin...
the stuff zips off like a tight sweater.

Peeling an orange is a satisfying experience—almost as neat and definite as peeling a banana. Once you've broken through the tough skin enough to get the end of your thumb under an edge, the stuff zips off like a tight sweater. The thicker the peel, the easier the peeling. (Then again, if it's too thick, I always feel kind of cheated, don't you?)


If you're lucky, a few jets of fragrant orange oil will spritz out of the fruit's glands—those little dark spots just under the outer surface—letting anyone within twenty yards know what you're up to without even looking.

The two sides of the peel could hardly be much different: tough, leathery, dimpled like pigskin on the outside; soft, creamy-white and kind of furry on the inside. Some of this stuff—the pith—always tries to cling to the fruit. I don't mind; it doesn't have much taste, and besides, I hear it's good for you.

AN EXPLOSION OF FLAVOR
The meat of the orange, when you step back from its familiarity, is like something you might read about in the tale of a journey to some exotic eden. Sheer membranes divide it into these little bite-sized, translucent wedges that peel
neatly apart.

...hundreds of tiny little teardrop-shaped sacs explode, filling your mouth with their luscious juice.

 

You raise one section toward your mouth. If you think its cool, rubbery texture suggests what it's like biting into it, you're in for a surprise. As your teeth penetrate, hundreds of tiny little teardrop-shaped sacs explode, filling your mouth with their luscious juice. (If it's the kind of orange I like, those oil glands in the fruit's skin have infused the juice with their orange essence, and the sweetness is balanced with a nice acidic bite.)

WHENCE LITTLE ORANGES COME
Then there are the pips (seeds). The color of rich cream, each is like a tiny parcel wrapped in crinkled wax paper. Inside is the smooth, tender, white-centered seed. Hints of green suggest its miraculous potential for new life.*

A navel orange, of course, has its belly button at one end and, inside—amazing!—a second little orange in embryonic form. Eating it—if you can set aside the embryo image—is an adventure of still more flavors and textures.

Next time you peel an orange, try my approach: do it as if you'd never done it before. Try to forget what you know will happen. Take your time, open all your senses and enjoy! Then won't you please share your "as if for the first time" experience here by leaving a comment? Thanks!
*I've heard people say orange seeds are poisonous, but I don't believe them. In fact, I've eaten a number of them, just to see what they taste like. Personally, I think there's a greater chance you'd choke than be poisoned.

4 comments:

Patricia said...

YUM

Jeffrey Willius said...

Patricia -- Bet you've heard far more creative takes on the good ol' orange from your little ones. Right? Thanks for your faithful visits here!!

travelrat said...

Just discussing only the other day:

To what was the word 'orange' first assigned? The fruit, the colour or the Dutch Royal Family?

Jeffrey Willius said...

travelrat: THanks for dropping in at One Man's Wonder! Really appreciating your taking the time to comment.
Wikipedia says the name of the fruit came first. Don't know about the Dutch royal family...

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