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  • Day73

    Orange, orange everywhere.....

    November 11, 2015 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    .... and not a bite to eat.

    One of the first things we noticed when we arrived in Malaga was the abundance of orange trees lining most of the main streets. All were laden with fruit in varying degrees of ripeness, and we wondered why people didn't help themselves to the free bounty.

    After a couple of days of admiring the trees, while on the way home from the market, I came across a tree that had particularly low hanging, bright orange fruit and I gave into the temptation. I tossed my prize into the bag with the rest of the oranges I had purchased at the mercado and made my way home.

    Curious to taste my ill gotten gains, I cut the orange in half. It looked like a regular orange, although the seeds were small and plentiful. I sniffed the cut half and found it to be bursting with orange aromatics. I brought the half to my mouth, carefully licked it and POW!!!, I learned why no one pilfers from the trees. It tasted a little like orange, but was as bitter as any lemon could be.

    We were later told by our tour guide that the oranges were brought to Andalusia by the Moors who prized the springtime fragrance and the beauty of the orange blossoms. There are roughly 650 of these bitter orange trees planted in Malaga alone. It was later discovered that marmalade is made by boiling the fruit, slicing the peel and adding sugar to the strained juice. Marmalade was widely used by seafarers way back when to ward off scurvy.

    When we arrived in Seville, we found even more trees. In fact, I read somewhere that there are more than 14,000 of them in the city! The Seville oranges are gathered from the trees once a year and 90% of them are shipped to the UK for the production of marmalade. I'm not sure what happens to the other 10%.

    Now that I think about it, I recall always seeing "Seville Orange Marmalade" on the jars back home. I just never imagined that the sweet concoction I spread on my toast started out so very, very bitter.

    I guess we'll have to come back here in the spring at some future date so we can experience the perfume of the orange trees in full bloom.
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