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.


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