Thursday, 6 November 2008

tangerine dream

I had a peak moment with a tangerine this week. It was a pretty sexy experience, full bodied… that combination of sweet and sour, hitting my tongue, juices bursting… groans of delight… you get the picture. The tangerine was biodynamic, which helps, but the main reason for the rapture was that because we mainly eat in season, when citrus time comes around, it’s an exciting experience; I get to taste things anew, as though for the first time.

The tangerine in question was from Tanya Laporte’s new shop on Landsdown. I had just bought a few, which were wolfed down by my four children – sorry, young adults - but I returned the next day and got a whole big brown bag full. At around 25p a fruit, they were excellent value. Indianna, who runs the shop, says they will be kept stocked up for the whole season, depending on supply.

In recent years I’d all but given up on citrus, since dry, tasteless fruit is so disappointing. But now I have a new policy: taste them all to find the best and gorge on that. Next day I went to Bill’s for breakfast. I bought one tangerine, a mandarin and a navel orange and settled in for my trial with a paper and a cup of tea. The tangerine was disappointingly bland, but then Bill, who joined in the tasting, pointed out that tangerines are always quite bland. We agreed that the mandarin was a bit pithy. But we hit gold with the navel – Yes! It was as zingy and juicy and messy as I remembered navels from my childhood. (I used to eat so many that a dentist once commented on it.) They were 6 for £1 so I bought 30 for 5 Lewes Pounds. They were mottled from rain and Bill reminded me that the European Commission is allowing Class 2 fruit and veg - with cosmetic defects – to be sold where before it was being sent to landfill – a full 20% of all European produce. Bill’s keen to take on a ‘pile em high, sell em cheap’ approach with certain gluts, which is great for foragers like me.

I suppose my point is that living simply, in season, locally, from glut to glut, is not the hairshirt lifestyle that consumerists paint it to be. It’s an adventure, it keeps me fit and it’s enjoyable and deeply satisfying. A bit like sex really.

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