03 January 2009

2 January 2009 Photo: Oh my darlin' Clementine

Clementines!!! I am not really sure when I first discovered the juicy sweetness of a little clementine but I know I look forward to the season every winter.

What is a clementine, you ask? Well even if you didn't...too bad. Thanks to Produce Pete for this excellent description.

"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. 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.

The origin of clementines is shrouded in mystery. Some attribute their discovery to father Clement, a monk in Algeria, who tending his mandarin garden in the orphanage of Misserghim, found a natural mutation. He nurtured the fruit tree and subsequently called it "clementino". Others, like Japanese botanist Tanaka, believe that clementines must have originated in Asia and found their way through human migration to the Mediterranean. Whatever their origin, the fact is that clementines found their natural climate and soil in Spain, where they developed their particular aroma, sweetness and taste. "

I was l lucky enough to be in Spain during clementine season a few years ago and happily ate several of these delectable bursts of citrus that I bought from the market in Barcelona . This year I had to depend on Wegmans for my clementine fix. In fact I think I will go have one right now!

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