WINTER 2011. BLOOD ORANGE. 02.18.11
Fans of the sitcom Seinfeld may remember an episode in which Kramer loses his sense of taste and misses the two-week window “Mackinaw peaches” are in season. These very special peaches (which, by the way, are fictitious), supposedly superior to any other peach variety, were apparently worth the 50-week wait. Blood oranges fall into the same camp in some ways. They are only available for a short time each year, they can be tricky to find (try Whole Foods) and they are distinctly superior to any navel or valencia I’ve ever met. I will admit to having become a bit carried away with photographing them. They are just so beautiful. If I were a fashion photographer instead of an amateur with a penchant for food porn, this would be the equivalent of shooting a Gisele Bunchen portrait. Like any true beauty, their looks are only enhanced by their inner goodness – sweet, a little tart and just a hint of deep red berry. No, I didn’t just call Gisele Bunchen a tart. Never!
So why has something so lovely – I’m talking about the oranges, people – been given a name that conjures guts and perhaps even violence? No clue, but I can tell you that after I juiced a small pile of them by hand, my counter looked like it could use police tape. Sticky, red juice dripped from my knife and ran in a suspicious line down the counter. The juiced halves laid like limp, slain corpses littered about the cutting board. Enjoying the sweet juice even made me feel a bit guilty. Sort of. If I were you, I’d pick up a bundle of these while you can. Use some for the recipes this week, then keep the rest around for snacking. Next week we return from fantasyland with a prim and proper vegetable boasting versatility, but lacking the sex a-peel (sorry, couldn’t resist) of this week’s star.