Sunday, February 9

Blood Red Oranges: As good as it gets

Picture and all the nutritional info
you would ever want from 
One of my long held stances on Life in Italy is that much of the country is marketing-challenged.  You can imagine my dismay when I first heard about blood red oranges.  But in reality, the name fits.  By my calculations, the only reason vampires don't exist is that they went vegan and started going for this sweet nectar instead.
But, trolling the internet, you find plenty of nay-sayers. most likely turned off by the name.  Or the looks.  Somewhere on twitter I turned up a whole community of no blood-red orange people. I was shocked.
But this caused me to recall my very first interaction with this strangest of fruits [after all, I came from the Orange-Juice-from-a-can USA DNA strain].  Heck, it was a miracle for me to know that oranges grew on trees.

So there I was in Parma, at 19 years old, sweating it out in one of the hottest summers ever experienced by homo sapiens.  I was holding down the challenges of a summer internship in a place where everyone heads for the cooler hills for the summer, leaving the sad sacks behind to shut the windows so the heat wouldn't come into the building. My workload was so challenging that I actually experienced carpal tunnel from the mass of papers they had me staple - as my only job requirement - for three straight sweltering months.
After one particularly staple-stress-filled day at the office, I headed out to a nearby bar (well, that's not entirely the only bar open in a 60 km radius from my office) and, eyeing a small hill of gorgeous oranges, I asked for some fresh-squeezed juice.  I was so desperate, I was willing to spend an entire week's pay stub to satisfy my need to be both cooled & vitamined up before rickets kicked in altogether.  
The bar tender placed a purplish glass filled with some concoction in front of me.  It looked as if they had taken three rotten oranges, clearly covered over from the heat with a purplish mould, and put it in my glass.  I refused to drink it.  
The bartender started to laugh.  Thinking it was some gag he was playing on me - I looked around for Candid Camera.  I finally said, politely, that I couldn't drink this.  And...what was it anyway?  By way of an answer he produced equally purple oranges - split in two - which only confirmed my suspicions. The fruit was rotten, after all.
By this time, the only other person in the entire town told me to try it.  Not recalling those monitions of 'never accepting strange food from strangers', I tried a tentative sip.
And to this day, I have never, ever, in my life tasted something so wondrous, so stupendous, so over-the-top sweet & sour & sensational.  To top it off, they even served it with a bag of sugar and a tall spoon to stir it all around with.  Since that fateful day, I have never been able to drink what most countries call "orange juice" again.  
But in trying to beat that unbearable Parma heat, I never did get my o.j. with a cube of ice inside.  It didn't matter.  And still doesn't.

No comments: