It seems like everyone is talking about clementines these days. Annabel at Insideology did a great montage of them for her photo class, and Alicia at Posie Gets Cozy (the blog that got me blogging...I'm so not worthy!) mentioned a few posts ago that she's been eating something like three a day, or is it more? Who can blame her? I think Callum's up to three a day for sure! The grocery stores are overflowing with those sweet crates, and I can't resist them every time I pass by.
I am not generally a fan of citrus. Neel and Callum will tease me by offering me "a big old glass of orange juice." Totally not my thing. Never has been. There is some suggestion that citrus can trigger migraines, and I've often wondered if that was the cause of my natural resistance. My general disdain.
But clementines. Oh, clementines. I can distinctly remember the first time I had a clementine. In 1992 I was a senior in college, and Neel was living and working from his parent's home. Away from me. That was less than fun. My friend Jessica, who was living near me at the time but was from Neel's part of Pennsylvania, invited me home with her one weekend. It was to meet her family, but it was to see my beau as well. (Jessica, I think you know about still + life, are you out there? Does this ring any bells?!) Jessica asked Neel to pick her up from the airport (which in Philly can be a real chore), and being the nice guy that he is, he did. No questions asked. He didn't know that I was on the plane too.
It was fun, surprising him.
Back to the clementines. Aside from surprising Neel, a few things stand out about that trip. One was learning a new word. Marinara. At my house we always just had spaghetti, but when I got to Jessica's her mother offered me "pasta with marinara sauce." It's a good thing I'm not generally afraid to ask questions, because looking back I feel pretty stupid for asking, "What's marinara sauce?" I'd never heard it called marinara. But I liked it. It rolled off the tongue. When she told me it was just red sauce, everything made sense. I remember they had bottles of Pelligrino in their wine rack.
And I remember the clementines.
Oranges are iffy. Oranges are pithy. (And not the good kind of pithy.) Oranges are hard to peel, sometimes bitter and untrustworthy. Oranges have seeds. Not clementines.
Easy to access. Always sweet. Little bites of golden delight. They were a revelation to me. We didn't have clementines in Tennessee. I ordered a crate to have sent to my parents. It felt very grown up, sharing this new-found wonder.
It's funny now to look back at how magical the clementines felt to me. Not-from-around-here. Unusual. Exoctic. A rare and special thing.
Now they're a winter staple for us. I start grabbing the crates as soon as they show up in the grocery store. It's our vitamin C and winter sunshine. Everyday Callum will ask, "Can I have a clementine?" as if he too knows this is something special. As if. Of course you can have a clementine.