One of the Thirteen, the Tangerine

Photo Credit: Darwin Bell

The color certainly captures your attention, doesn’t it? Such a glossy — almost neon — orange.

When I was a kid, I always wondered if anyone else ever got a wrinkly tangerine bumping around in their Christmas stocking. At some point along the way, I found out that the Victorians were big on citrus fruit at Christmas and since my great-grandmother was obviously from that era, it all began to make some sense, why my mother seemed to be carrying on a tradition with tangerines.

While the Victorians were stuffing stockings, the Provençals were filling bowls and baskets with tangerines for their Thirteen Desserts of Christmas Eve.

Cousin to the mandarin orange, tangerines grew in China and Japan for 3000 years before they first appeared in Europe during the nineteenth century, so their presence in Provence is relatively new. Rare as rubies,  no doubt, in the beginning, tangerines  probably symbolized wealth and prosperity to people in the cold of a northern hemisphere December.

A perfect addition, or offering as it were, to the Christmas Eve gros souper in Provence.

Simple to prepare: just peel and eat. Feast on the beauty and savor the thick, succulent juice.

To be continued …

Be sure to read other posts on Provence’s Thirteen Desserts:

No Partridges, Just Thirteen Desserts HERE

Lillet by Another Means: Vin d’Orange, or, French Christmas Spirit HERE

Citron* (Cédrat), Jewel-Like Morsel of Provence’s Thirteen Christmas Desserts HERE

Panis focacius, la Gibacié, and la  Pompe à l’huîle, Kin Under the Crust, One of the Thirteen HERE

Begging the Question: Les Quatre Mendiants and Provence’s Thirteen Christmas Desserts HERE

© 2010 C. Bertelsen

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4 comments

  • Yes, I came across that interesting tidbit about Tangier, but didn’t put it in the post, so thank you for mentioning it. Seedless is great by me — that’s the one thing I find difficult with tangerines, so many seeds, so much work for each segment! Tiny mouthfuls indeed.

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  • And I am told, named for the people of Tanger (Tangier, Morocco). Bien sur!
    Satsumas are coming into season in Southern California. This little gem is seedless, and sooooo sweet, and just large enough for a mouthful. Another of nature’s candies!

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  • We always found a tangerine in the toe of our Christmas stockings. In the old days, citrus fruits were the only fresh fruit to be had in the winter (you’re probably too young to remember…).

    Like

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