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Spanish Clementines: A Guilty Pleasure

  • Subject: [cg] Spanish Clementines: A Guilty Pleasure
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2002 22:44:41 EST

Friends,

I know everything about the vegetable soup in my freezer - I  grew all of the 
spices, the pole beans carrots and peppers in it, swapped tomatoes last 
season with my neighbor who grew the garlic, and shook hands with the farmer 
from upstate who brought the potatoes and parsnips into town. The sweet 
potatoes came from another greenmarket farmer from 60 miles away in New 
Jersey . Honestly, they didn't look as good as the plumped up Louisiana yams 
that are all over the place, organic or the other kind - but when I can I buy 
local.  He wanted me to buy more, but I only had so much room in my small 
kitchen, and then I would have been tempted to mash up a mess and bake 'em 
with marshmallows - the waistline doesn't need that.  I always have veggie 
stock on hand, so it was pretty easy last Saturday afternoon ( there are some 
good stock recipes in Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone",  a 
cookbook a friend gave me as a gift.)  Turned on the Met Opera broadcast ( 
only good thing an oil company ever did)  and started cooking down this 
week's spaghetti sauce with some dried basil from last summer, some of that 
bartered garlic and organic olive oil, canned tomato paste and plum tomatoes 
which alas,  come from far away California. The tomatoes I grew last summer 
were real - the kind in the grocery markets now are like Potamkin 
villages...all skin, color, water and no tomato - fakes.  We ate or shared 
all of ours last summer, alas - there being no room to put them up in our 
small apartment. 

OK, ok the Clementines.  My folks, Middle European immigrants, used to buy 
Florida tangerines (lovely oily skins, a fragrance that would fill the 
kitchen) and later, when the tangerines were grown with thicker skins and 
less fragrance, the Spanish Clementines that they remembered as holiday 
treats as children. They still come to New York, using G-d knows how much 
oil, via container ships from Nules in Spain. They even have the same old 
time balsa wood boxes ( kept baseball cards in one as a kid, my box from last 
year is filled with drying jalapenos).  The peels will go into my compost 
can, vastly improving the aroma and will end up in the community garden 
compost. 

A query for someone who understands agricultural policy better that I do - 
the box bears this legend, " Not for distribution in AZ, CA, FL, LA, TX, 
Puerto Rico or any US Territory."  I can guess why, in citrus growing states, 
but the other areas are a mystery to me. Does someone know the answer to this 
question, and why we don't grow clementines this good in the USA?

The mind game I play is that, at least,  because of EEC rules against GMOs, 
that they are still real and that in Spain, the farm workers have some 
medical benefits and are not as poisoned by pesticides as our Mexican 
braseros - but I can't know for sure.  No rain forest was depleted for these 
babies, but I worry  about the trucks and the ozone layer.  But with the 
opera playing,  the soup and pasta sauce simmering, with a cup of tea and a 
good book, the very peeling of the clementine, its' oil and intensely citric 
aroma  fills the room  with the very essence of summer -  a pleasure, however 
guilty. 

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman


 

 



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