California Citrus

The blue sky and bunches of radishes at the Sunday morning farmers' market had me nearly skipping. Not that I don't like winter, I do. In fact the fall and winter are my favorite seasons.

The lift in my step was nearly involuntary, as if a seed under my skin was busting out ready to bloom. And I couldn't help but enjoy the change.

Which partially explains the bags of citrus I came home with. I was captured by a round woman in an apron and one of them was clearly from the old country as my Grandmother would have said. And this woman with her unleashed pincurls kept feeding me citrus fruits. She was pronouncing names, telling me what each new fruit tasted like, handing me more, reaching into boxes, slicing, handing, talking about antioxidants, popping a slice into her own mouth, waving her knife around.

"Here. Taste." I had some variety of mellow something grapefruit in my mouth, a slice of yellow lime, a pink orange. "It doesn't taste like lime," she declared.

I shook my head, my hand filling up with peels. She was right. She thrust a piece of small orange fruit, a cross between a mandarin and kumquat at me.

"Eat the skin." Her knife stabbed the space between us. I didn't argue. My face puckered until I bit into the almost sugary skin and putting the other peels in my pocket I started filling a bag with the sour fruits.

Satisfied, but still talking the woman began poking pinwheels of oranges and lemons onto sticks and poking them into the sides of the boxes. And all I could think of were daffodils and the bucket of china lillies at the first corner of the market.

And I came home with some of everything. Buddha's hands and kumquats excluded. The only two things I knew the names of.

"They're from Fresno," I told my friend later, taking the bright skinned fruit out of their bags. Apologizing as Fresno is further than my 100 mile local zone.

"Fresno? You mean these aren't from Florida?!" She picked up a big grapefruit. "You can grow these here!? "In California!?"

I nodded remembering she's not a native and smiling let her excitement effect me too.

We had our own tasting party then, this one more slowly than my other and we discussed for awhile where in the world our food comes from.


Melinda said...

I love your farmers market stories. Maybe it's because I can live vicariously... our farmers market doesn't open until MAY. May?! We only live 75 miles north of you. Half the produce has produced and gone by then. Argh.

The citrus looks amazing. I love all their different scents. And I've never heard of those varieties before. Er, I'm not sure I'd bring home the Buddha's Hand either - looks pretty crazy.

Green Bean said...

Yum! I just found you through dark days but love the story too. I'm Bay Area - didn't see where you are - and am loving all the wonderful citrus available.

kale for sale said...

Melinda - But you're closer to the Healdsburg market which is one of my favorites! It still has a lot of small town character that is increasingly hard to find.

green bean -- We're neighbors! I'm in San Anselmo. Marin County. And eating a Satsuma as I write. I can' believe all I used to eat were imported bananas. I was missing out on all the great California crops.

Melinda said...

Actually that's why we moved here - for the small town character and infrastructure. It needs a little work, but it'll do ; ). For instance, the Healsburg Farmer's Market is great, but it doesn't open until May. Until then, we mostly go to Andy's - a produce market way down in Sebastopol. The gas, the gas...

I have been perusing the cookbooks to make lots of lemon foods. Yum. I made lemon soup two days ago, and yesterday we had a scrumptious lemon sponge custard. I may even finally make marmalade today!

I love California.