Friday, March 30, 2012

Waxing poetic

A couple of years ago I discovered Leafcutter Designs, run by Lea Redmond. Lea has an amazing imagination, and she likes to create collaborative projects. I'm a sucker for these types of things, so I signed up for Waxing Poetic, where we were asked to come up with alternative names for crayons. Lea recently contacted all her "lovely crayon poets", and sent us a box.

The box itself is beautiful, delicate, old-fashioned and perfect.

I can't exactly remember what I named my crayons. Only a couple stand in my mind. A pink one was "Aunt Connie's bathroom tiles". Another one was "Travis Denimore", paired with "What could have been and wasn't", in honor of a failed love story. None of them were in my box. The ones I got were amazing.

What a fantastic project! This little box made my day. Thank you, Lea.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bitter Oranges in Sevilla

The streets of Sevilla are lined with Bitter Orange trees, some 45,000 of them.   These trees are so emblematic of the city that they are also known as Seville Oranges.

In late winter the city begins to pick the oranges.  We happened to be in Sevilla when a crew worked on the trees behind my mother's house.

They worked pretty fast.  The trees were cleaned up in a matter of minutes.

Probably more time was spent looking for stranded oranges under cars than pulling them from the tree!

These oranges are too bitter to be eaten fresh.  Instead, they will be shipped to the UK and France, where they will become marmalade.  Their bitterness plays well against the sweetness of jam.  They also happen to have a higher pectin content than regular oranges, so it all works out in the end.

The peel is very fragrant, and it also gets used to make essential oils for the perfume and food industries.

When I was little, I remember boys rolling oranges into the path of incoming vehicles, timing their throws so that the oranges became road kill.  I didn't see any of those games this time.  Maybe there is a PlayStation version already?

I don't know how heavy this bag may be, but poking around in the net I saw that in 2010 about six million kilos were picked in the city (that's over 13 million pounds, or 6,600 US tons).  That's a lot of marmalade!

Note the row of orange trees on the left side of the street.  Pretty soon these trees will be covered in orange blossoms, shrouding the city in one of the most exquisite perfumes ever found in nature. 

My mom and some handsome dude wanted to pose in this picture.  I want to take this opportunity to introduce him to the world.  His name is Ron.  He will be making an occasional appearance in this blog, and I want to call him by his name, not by "my husband", "the husband", "husband", or God forbid, "the mister" (yes, I saw that in a blog once...)

Do you like marmalade?  How do you eat it?  One of my easy go-to appetizers is a crostini with Manchego cheese topped with a dollop of marmalade.  This is a variation of the classic Manchego-quince paste combo, which one of these days we should explore.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Traveling on alpargatas

Things have been pretty quiet around here because we were out of town.  We went to visit our mothers.  First, to Florida.  Then, to Seville, Spain.  It was a tough trip, in many regards.  It was cold everywhere.  We were sick with the flu.  The airlines, as usual, did not cooperate, and we had to endure long waits in different time zones.  Traveling is already an unpleasant chore when you are in perfect health, so to do it when sick is something I do not recommend to anyone.

While we were in Seville we didn't do a whole lot, compared to other trips, but one day I managed to snap a picture of some very colorful espadrilles, or alpargatas, the traveling footwear of my countrymen for so many centuries. The evolution of the alpargata is amazing, in an Ugly Duckling sort of way.  From its humble beginnings as a peasant shoe, it has been reinterpreted by luxury icons like Prada and Jimmy Choo.  If the first alpargatero could raise his head!

I am slowly getting back to my routine, and in the next few days I hope to tell you a few stories about our vacation.  It is nice to be back, but it is also a bit sad.  I miss everybody.

Happy Monday.