Chunks of orange in the salad reminded me of how refreshing they are. In my childhood we often ate oranges over the sink because it was so messy when we ate the flesh off each quarter of skin. Though I was never much of a sports person, I still associate orange quarters with breaks in netball and other games.
I was less keen on finding orange in every fruit salad but loved the juice. Freshly squeezed orange juice was a treat in my family, and is always on the table at Christmas breakfast. When we weren't eating them, we stuck cloves, really closely together, into oranges to make pomanders.
The history of the orange involves a difference of origin between the bitter and sweet orange. In fact I have read that some historic recipes often refer to the bitter orange when calling for an orange. Jane Grigson notes that the name orange originally came from the Indian word narayam, meaning “perfume within”
The bitter orange is bitter orange is a native of Southeast Asia and was cultivated in the Indus Valley some 6,000 years ago. It was brought to the Mediterranean by the Arabs around A.D. 1000, and was later brought to Spain, where they became known as the "Seville orange."
The sweet orange may also have originated in Southeast Asia, although many believe it to be a native of southern China. It arrive in Europe around fifteenth century, brought by Moors and Genoese or Portuguese traders. Sweet orange groves in India were remarked upon by Portuguese explorer, Vasco De Gamma in 1498. The sweet orange became known as the "Portuguese orange".
Oranges can be seen in early Christian tile mosaics in Turkish Mosques that were churches of the Emperor Constantine, dating back to 300 AD. They were encountered by English crusaders in the fruit groves around Jaffa in 1191-2 and were on display in the Renaissance paintings on the table in paintings of The Last Supper.
Oranges were a sign of opulence in Europe. They were the symbol of the Medici (Italy) - five gold oranges can be found in their crest and oranges are painted on the ceilings of the Pitti Palace. Sweet-orange trees were planted at Versailles (France) in 1421. After Francis I saved Marseilles from a Spanish siege, the ladies of Marseillaise pelted him with oranges as a token of their love and gratitude. Louis XIV of France hung tapestries of oranges in the halls of Versailles, because oranges and orange trees were the symbols of his nature and his reign. He built a grand orangery to shelter the trees from the frost and in Spring the tubs of orange trees were wheeled into the sun.
The Dutch Royal Family got it surname and symbol from the little city called Orange in modern-day France. The city of Orange was the centre of the orange trade, and a princedom owned by the Dutch Royal Family.
Daphne du Maurier wrote a historical novel set in this period in which "the impatient crowd in the cheap seats [were] stamping and shouting for the play to begin while they threw orange peel on to the stage.”
Writing in The Road to Wigin Pier (1937), George Orwell discusses the appalling diet of a miner and remarks, "[w]ould it not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread". During World War II, oranges were highly prized as one of the rationed foods. This was reflected in the title of Vere Hodgson's war diaries, Few Eggs and No Oranges. I read a recent reminiscence about how brilliantly coloured oranges seemed at the end of World War 2 rationing.
Meanwhile, oranges became common in Northern America. It is said that Christopher Columbus carried sweet orange seeds on his second voyage to the New World in 1493. In 1539 the first oranges were brought to Florida. It was not until the United States acquired Florida in 1821 that orange growing became a profitable business. By the 1880s refrigerated ships and new railroads meant that oranges could be transported from orange groves in Florida and California. In 1919 the orange was the first fresh fruit to bear a trademark when Sunkist was burned onto the the skin. Nutritionists began to promote the health benefits of orange juice and it became a common drink in America.
More recently oranges were very chic in the 1970s. A twist of orange was as common as a sprig of parsley for garnishing dishes. Or if you threw a dinner party, you might skewer some chunks of cheese and pineapple on toothpicks and stick them into an orange to make it resemble a hedgehog.
"It is very generally understood that there is no fruit more wholesome than the orange."
in The Dawn, 1 June 1895, 'The medicinal value of oranges'
Oranges were brought to Australia with the First Fleet in 1788 and planted within days of arriving. In 1798, D. Collins, in one of those descriptively titled publications (An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales: with Remarks on the Dispositions, Customs, Manner, & c. of the Native Inhabitants of that Country) wrote that oranges were among ‘the delicious fruits of the Old, taking root and establishing themselves in our New World.’
Philip E Muskett in his 1893 book The Art of Living in Australia had a couple of orange dessert recipes such as Banana and Orange Salad. Around the same time, Imperial Jellies were advertised with the suggestion of serving the jellies in orange halves. I have looked over some of my older Twentieth Century Australian cookbooks and it seems the orange recipes were not uncommon. Mostly desserts but also some salads.
In more recent history, I was interested in this information in the NSW Atlas. "Twenty years ago, the juice market was stronger than the fresh fruit market, and Valencias [a juicing orange] dominated. Today imported juice concentrate has shrunk the market for juicing fruit and many Valencias have been replaced with navels [a superior table fruit]."
- Ancient peoples seem to have believed that orange (or red) fruits had magical properties, connecting them with blood and life force.
- The golden color of oranges led some mythmakers to link them with the sun.
- Oranges and orange blossoms are also symbols of love.
- In Japanese myth, the emperor sent a hero named Tajima-mori to the Eternal Land, possibly southern China, to bring back the magical fruit, so that the emperor might gain immortality. He returned too late and took his own life because he had not completed his mission.
- The Chinese considered oranges magical, believing that the fruit brought good luck and joy and warded off evil spirits.
- The Ancient Romans believed that oranges were brought to Italy by Herperides, the daughter of Atlas, who crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Africa in a giant shell.
- In Flemish legend, a young prince once went in search of a bride hidden within a magic orange in a land of sunshine and orange groves.
"In the nineteenth century poor children dreamed all the year round of getting the precious, scented present of an orange for Christmas. Most of them did not know what an orange tasted like, or even if they would dare eat that golden, almost magical fruit."
in History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, translated by Anthea Bell, 1992 (p. 659)
As a child I remember reading books, such as Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, where the children were given oranges at Christmas. It always seemed a mean present to me, in modern day Australia where oranges were plentiful and often in the fruit bowl. Yet before the age of speedy transportation and reliable refrigeration, fresh oranges were still a treat. After rationing Jane Grigson reminisces about Christmas oranges wrapped in silver paper. They also would have fitted into Christmas stockings nicely.
There is another reason I found for oranges to be a Christmas fruit. In the 1500s oranges and spices were so valuable that the Dutch gave gold and silver in exchange for them. Sinterklaas, who became the Dutch Santa Claus, was also the Saint protecting sailors who brough oranges from Spain to the Netherlands. Sinterklaas traditionally brings Dutch children presents including oranges.
“I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.”
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
Oranges are quite common in literature. The Orange Prize for Fiction is one of the UK's most prestigious literary prizes. Most of the references I found were in the Twentieth Century and beyond. Below is a sample of book titles:
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
- Oranges are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette winterson
- Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
- The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder
- The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen
- Oranges and Sunshine (a memoir) by Margaret Humphreys
- Oranges and Murder by Alison Prince
- Oranges in No Man's Land by Elizabeth Laird
- Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear by Emily Gravett
Oranges were also appreciated before our modern times. As far back as Shakespeare we find Beatrice joking that Claudio is "civil as an orange" (II.i.256) in Much Ado About Nothing (referring to a bitter orange). Lord Byron famously said "Seville is a pleasant city, famous for oranges and women" and Robert Louis Stevenson wrote "And every day when I've been good, / I get an orange after food." Lemons and oranges were one of the orchard fruits at Christina Rosetti's Goblin Market.
Oranges aren't widely featured in titles of television shows. There is an internet show that got a tv slot called The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange and it is hard to search for anything about Orange on the web without stumbling across Orange County. So it is no surprise that there was a tv show of this name. My favourite television orange was the quirky Curious Orange on Lee and Herring's This Morning with Richard not Judy. I also liked Inspector Morse's theory that "you go a funny colour if you eat too many oranges."
Oranges in song
Many of us grew us singing the children's nursery rhyme, Oranges and Lemons. Bob Dylan sang about Orange Juice Blues, Deep Purple sang The Orange Juice Song, and REM sang "I've got my Orange Crush". Scottish singer-songwriter, Al Stewart, called his fourth album Orange. Edwin Collins fronted a band called Orange Juice and Pulp had a compilation album (Freshly Squeezed: the early years) with an orange on the cover. The Fall wrote a soundtrack album I am Kurious Oranj for a contemporary ballet called I Am Curious Orange. A live version of the soundtrack was released called I Am As Pure As Oranj.
- Orange was first used as the name for a colour in 1542.
- The Battle of the Oranges is held each year in an Italian city called Ivrea. It is a huge food fight where organised groups throw oranges at each other.
- "Comparing apples to oranges" is a saying that is used when someone wants to impress that the two things in discussion are very different.
- An average sized fresh orange has 70mg of vitamin C. The daily recommended dose of vitamin C is 75mg for a woman and 90mg for a man.
- An archaic law in California, stumbled across by Stephanie Alexander, rules that it is (was?) illegal to eat an orange in a a bath.
- Some ancient civilizations used the juice and peel of oranges as antidotes for innumerable poisons.
- English children make "orange-peel teeth;" they wedge a piece of the peeling over their gums on Halloween.
- Oranges are a subtropical, not tropical fruit.
- Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is quoted as saying "Champagne and orange juice is a great drink. The orange improves the champagne. The champagne definitely improves the orange."
- In 2006 New South Wales, Australia produced 245,000 tonnes of oranges and only 20,000 tonnes of other citrus fruits (lemons, mandarins and grapefruit).
- In the Carribean oranges are cut in half and used to clean floors, one in each hand, according to John McPhee's book Oranges.
- The colour of an orange depends on where it grows. In more temperate climes, its green skin turns orange when the weather cools; but in countries where it’s always hot, the chlorophyll is preserved and the fruit stays green.
- Many societies once believed that the touch of a woman would cause the foilage of an orange tree to wilt and droop (NB This was obviously overcome by World War II where women's work on the home front in Australia included picking oranges).
- Orange in NSW, Australia is named by Thomas Mitchell who had been an associate of the Prince of Orange in the Peninsular War, when both were aides-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington
- Orange is a city in France that gave its name to the Dutch Royal Family (see Orange History above)
- New York was named New Orange by the Dutch before being taken over by the English.
- Times Square used to be known as "Orange Juice Gulch."
- Tel Aviv is known as the Big Orange due to orange production in Jaffa.
- Wikipedia has eighteen entries for places called Orange in the USA.
- The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of South Africa.
Words we associate with orange
Searching for orange trivia has been a wee bit challenging as I kept coming across many non-fruit oranges - place names, the colour, phone companies, Agent Orange etc. To make it even trickier some foods we associate with the orange fruit have become so common that new names have emerged. Marmalade is the term for what we might have called orange jam. The chocolate and orange flavour is often known as Jaffa. Orange juice is often called OJ. The Spanish also have a word "anaranjear" that means, literally, to “orangicate” or to pelt something with oranges.
Finally below is an excellent salad using oranges. Orange flesh often disappears in recipes. It is most a flavour - a squeeze of juice, a teaspoon of zest of just a touch of orange extract. I loved the freshness of oranges in this salad and how simply and beautifully they combine with the crunchy walnuts and smelly blue cheese. It was also worth forking out for a bottle of walnut oil, which made the dressing special.
I am sending this salad to Lisa for No Croutons Required (an event that she and Jacqueline organise). This month the theme is a vegetarian soup or salad suited to summer. This salad is light and refreshing, robust enough for a meal, and requires no cooking.
- Brussels sprouts with Cointreau
- Chestnut, parsnip and orange soup
- Hal's stirfry sauce
- Mulled wine
- Orange and date scones
- Orange glazed tempeh
- Orange lavender and almond syrup cake
- Orange and strawberry icypoles
- Paragon chocolate orange cake
- Spiced red currant and orange punch
Orange recipes in on the internet
- Blood orange olive oil cake with rosemary - Food Blogga
- Candied orange peel dipped in chocolate - Chocolate Log Blog
- Flourless chocolate and orange cake - taste.com.au
- Orange and clove sugar - Vanessa Kimbell
- Orange and coconut cake - cityhippyfarmgirl
- Orange mint and chocolate salad - Kathryn Elliot on ABC Health and Wellbeing
- Orange and oat scone recipe - 101 Cookbooks
- Orange and poppyseed cake - Laws of the Kitchen
- Spinach feta blood orange salad - Joy the Baker
Orange, walnut and blue cheese salad
From Australian BBC Good Food (see the British version)
200g salad greens (I used baby spinach, rocket and lettuce)
1 tbsp walnut oil
140g blue cheese
75g (3/4 cup) walnuts, roughly chopped
Peel the orange and chop into quarters above a small bowl to catch the juice. Mix juice with the walnut oil. Toss orange walnut dressing through the salad greens on a large shallow serving bowl. Arrange orange chunks, crumbled blue cheese and walnuts over the greens.
On the Stereo:
Krautrockzeit: Die Kult Klassiker! - Various Artists