Speaking of splashes of color that brighten up the winter, I was thrilled to reconnect recently with an old friend who has cheered up many dark winter days for me. (No, I’m not talking about a blast from the past on Facebook, although there have been a few humdingers in the last week or two). I’m talking about my absolute favorite citrus fruit (for eating out of hand, that is—my love of lemons is well documented, but I don’t peel them and eat them for lunch): first encountered in Boston as minneolas, I have just started finding them for sale here as tangelos. (According to Wikipedia, both are correct, so you know it must be true.)
Whatever their name, they are easily recognizable by the big bump around the stem end of the orange—like a cartoon lump on the head—and are generally available only for a brief period during the winter months (as opposed to the ubiquitous and un-compelling navel orange). In Boston, I remember looking for them just after Christmas, when winter really took hold; here I saw them for the first time at the end of May, considerably earlier in the cold-weather season, but no less welcome for that.
If you haven’t gotten into the habit of eating these, may I respectfully suggest that you do so at your earliest convenience? Tangelos are like the navel orange’s much cooler and more interesting cousin. Their skin is a more pronounced shade of glowing orange, they are bursting with juice, and their flavor is complex, both sweet and tangy, reflecting the zing of their grapefruit forebears but with none of the bitterness. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, act now, since supplies are apparently limited (I had to go to two stores to find some today!). For those of you in the northern hemisphere, file away for reference in about six months’ time; I promise you these actually do give you something to look forward to in January.