Two reasons for choosing the orange to Dietribe upon this week: one, it's something bright to lighten up the winter doldrums, and two, as a reminder of how to fight some of those nasty winter-related colds and ills. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you ... the orange!
"¢ Oranges, natives of Southeast Asia, were first introduced to the Americas on Christopher Columbus' second voyage. Working their way up the West Coast of the United States, oranges were one of the first shipments to leave Los Angeles on the transcontinental railroad in 1886. Thanks in part to orange cultivation, the population of Los Angeles went from 11,183 to half a million by 1920. Of course by then the orange growers had been pushed to the suburbs ... known as Orange County!
"¢ Though California continues to produce oranges, nowadays 90% of the orange juice in the US comes from Florida. World-wide, Brazil is actually the leading producer of this delectable citrus.
"¢ The word "orange" has a rich etymological history, and is probably most infamous for not having another English rhyming word. According to this obviously reliable source, US Naval Commander Henry Honychurch Gorringe, the captain of the USS Gettysburg who discovered Gorringe Ridge in 1875, led Arthur Guiterman to quip in "Local Note":
In Sparkill buried lies that man of mark
Who brought the Obelisk to Central Park,
Redoubtable Commander H.H. Gorringe,
Whose name supplies the long-sought rhyme for "orange."
"¢ Speaking of ships, oranges can also help in preventing and overcoming scurvy, as discovered by James Lind in the mid-1700s. There are other ways to treat scurvy as well. Bottom line: keep up with your vitamin C consumption!
"¢ Oranges have plenty of uses besides being a refreshing snack and a lovely morning beverage drink. They've been used to make plastic, power up ipods (er...maybe), and are useful slug repellents. They also make for nifty mascots, beating out mightier suggestions like wolves or lions. Vive les oranges!
"¢ Because every day draws us closer to inevitable Robot Revolution, orange growers have invested in technology to create orange-harvesting robots. What will future robots do with oranges they can't eat? Maybe they can throw them at one another.
"¢ There are plenty of different types of oranges, including Navel (a particularly grafted mutation that are all clones of the original tree!), Valencia (sweet oranges used for juicing) and Blood Oranges. Fruit Detective David Karp says, on the subject of Blood Oranges, "Blood orange coloration is part science, part mystery. Cold winter nights alternating with mild days favor the development of anthocyanins, red pigments that impart a distinctive appearance and taste; shaded or partly exposed fruit, as on the north side of trees, tend to develop the darkest peels. Anthocyanins also color cherries, berries, beets and roses, indeed many plants. In young citrus leaves, the pigmentation protects delicate internal cells from sunlight, but in blood oranges it seems to be a superfluous response to climatic stress." Yummy.
I do love oranges and drink orange juice every morning, but since this is clementine season I've been chowing down on those specifically. What about you guys? Favorite oranges? Favorite way to eat them? Disagreements against the fact that oranges are one of the most infuriating fruits to eat, and should never be consumed in mixed company?
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