Lil darlings

Oh my darlings, here come Clementines. The little oranges seem to be everywhere. They are just the right size for a snack, and so easy to peel that even my little preschoolers can do it All By Myself. Clementines are sold here in tiny cardboard crates, or in bags with the brand name, "Little Cuties".

I'd never heard of Clementines until a couple years ago. Had these cuties been using some other name? We probably just called them mandarin oranges, and were most familiar with them in the canned form. I figured Clementines were a hyped foodie fruit until I tried them.

Clementine's are the tiniest of the mandarins. Imported from Spain, Morocco, and other parts of North Africa, clementines are a cross between a sweet orange and a Chinese mandarin. They are small, very sweet, and usually seedless. Most people think of clementines as small tangerines, but they're a different variety entirely, with a distinctive taste. The Clementine is an excellent eating orange. Its small size and lack of seeds make it particularly popular with kids. Clementines have been available in Europe for many years, but the market for them in the United States was made only a few years ago, when a devastating freeze in Florida made domestic oranges scarce and expensive. A lot of oranges, including clementines, were imported from Europe, and clementines started to catch on. Over the past few years they've become increasingly popular, and as the demand has gone up, so has the price ... Clementines were first brought to the United States in 1982.

At Christmas all my sons were home and we went through two bags of Clementines in just a week. I couldn't help thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder getting an orange for her Christmas present.

It doesn't take much arm-twisting for my walking buddy to convince me that we need some soup at La Madeleine after our strenuous weekend workouts. La Mad's creamy tomato bisque puts on as many calories as our walks take off. Last time I was staring at a natural straw decoration above a doorway as I savored my soup. Slowly it donned on me that I could see where this authentic traditional French countryside decor accent had been assembled with hot glue! Then I began to wonder if the dried produce on the sheaf of wheat might be Clementines with longitudinal slices.

My experiment drying sliced Clementines for straw arrangements is under way. If it works, I'll let you know. In the meantime, spring has arrived. I hear Richie Haven's singing his 1971 hit of the Beatles song, "Here Comes the Sun".

In the mid-Sixties my grandma used to make Orange Jello Mandarin Salad. It had orange juice concentrate, canned crushed pineapple, and canned mandarin oranges. In those Beatlemania years, I thought her orange jello salad was positively groovy.

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder


Genevieve said...

I have an mandarin orange salad recipe that my husband and I love -- it has sweetened condensed milk in it and it tastes like an Orange Julius.

Very interesting about the clementines. I did indeed think that they were little tangerines.

Collagemama said...

Orange Julius! Am I at the Westroads in Omaha in the early Seventies??? When we had school field trips to Omaha we sometimes got to have a side trip to the Westroads. My favorite store was a home design/kitchenware shop called "The Afternoon". I always thought the name had something to do with Hemingway.


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