Written in 1994 by a lover of the Dancy Tangerine:
“On the night of the winter solstice, I approach the venerable old tree,
living shrine of the sacred genes. With snippers in hand I begin
harvesting the fruit. With each little snip, the cool breeze from the
lake becomes more and more perfumed with thymol and limonene, an
olfactory flashback to holidays past and future. The tangerines are at
their peak, nearly explosive with aromatics; just handling them is
enough to release a little peel oil, compounding the orgy of promising
aromas, harbingers of gustatory gratification.
Gently I carry them into the house. Holding one up to the light,
I savor the characteristics of this cultivar, the variety that I value
above all others. The indescribable but unmistakable color, somewhere
between red and orange, more tantalizing than the glint of gold.
I offer obeisance to these noble oblate orboids, and break one open
as an oblation. The rind is thin and tight but easy to peel, and soon
the interior glory is revealed: the articulated segments, the hollow
axis, the mysterious bits of stringy “rag.” Two segments at once, gotta
have it, I bite down and the juice sprays onto my eagerly waiting tongue
and palate. Ah, the complex completeness of it all; a chemical orchestra playing the finest
Lord, curse the citrus breeders who create varieties that are hard
enough to roll down conveyor belts and be dropped into boxes, varieties
that look good but taste like sugared cellulose, cultivars that can be
waxed and sit on a store shelf for three weeks and still look attractive
enough to trick someone into buying them.
What is Christmas without citrus….juicy tangelos and navel oranges. I love Christmas and its meaning…..the true gift: the Christ child born in Bethlehem.