You say mandarin, I say clementine

Green salad with sugared almonds, mandarin slices and blood orange vinaigrette

Mystery citrusy salad for two, mother and daughter. We both loved it! The vinaigrette was wildly delicious. But we never really solved The Mandarin Mystery.

March 3: Green Salad With Sugared Almonds, Slices of Fresh Mandarin(?) and Blood Orange Vinaigrette

I asked my visiting daughter Anna, 24, what single ingredient she was craving. I would build a salad based on that one desired flavor. “Mandarins. I had them all the time in Berlin. Fresh. Not those canned ones.”

I don’t remember seeing fresh (not canned) mandarins for sale here, or anywhere ever, unless mandarin is another name for clementine. No, they are not the same, said Anna. Half an hour later, the guy in the fruit and vegetable section at Philbricks Fresh Market said the same thing, not the same.

But there were two different brands of “clementines” for sale in wooden crates at Philbricks, and one of them had the word “mandarins” in small print in the French translation of product information. There were also loose “clementines” for sale – but there were two different looking types of “clementines.” All four of the “clementines” I bought are shown here in the top right corner of the photo below.

We used the two less-clementiney looking ones for the salad, very top right. (They had no seeds.) Anna tasted them and thought maybe they were mandarins. Whatever. Let’s eat.

citrus

Citrus madness! Concentrated sunshine from distant places:  blood orange, kumquats, clementines and maybe mandarins.

Kumquats, what are they? I don’t even know. So I bought some. You eat them with the rind, we learned on the internet. We sampled them cut in tiny pieces and found that they explode with slightly sweet, bitter SOURNESS. The rind is sweetish and the inside is sour, go figure. They were not for our salad. “These would be good with gin,” said Anna.

I was drawn to the beauty of the blood oranges and, remembering their intense delicious sweetness, I bought two and Googled recipes for “blood orange vinaigrette.”

blood orange juice

Blood orange juice. Look at that color!

Color my March world with citrus.

My vinaigrette evolved from this recipe on Chow.com: Blood Orange Vinaigrette. I had no shallots so I left them out. But I added a splash (teaspoon maybe?) of red wine vinegar because (without the shallots?) it was just simply sweet and nice and I wanted a bit of kapow tartness too. It came out really, really good.

And here was the cherry on top of my salad…

sugared almonds

Sugared almonds. Where did I get the idea for this brilliant addition? I don’t even know.

Sugar your own by putting sliced almonds in a nonstick pan with sugar and warming over medium heat, stirring gently and constantly until the sugar liquifies and coats the almonds. Add more sugar if you need to. The almonds get toasted at the same time.

Then you have to hide the almonds from your daughter (and your own sight) until it’s time to put them on the salad because they are better than candy!

So, that was our Sunday salad.

Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 6.04.19 AM

I am writing this on Monday (aways blogging one day behind the salad du jour). Above is a screenshot of our forecast for the next four days. Meh.

Sixteen years ago we lived in South Florida (for three years). There were many things I did not like about Tropicopolis, but March wasn’t one of them. It was a gorgeous month. Warm winds, green growing things, not too much rain, perfect temperatures. Along with April, it was the best time of the year. Now I live where March and April can be quite miserable, especially by comparison. I close my eyes and remember being suntanned and picking limes off the tree by the pool in my backyard.

I don’t care how far they have to travel and how not-local they are, I am thankful that citrus fruits are still in my life!

There are many varieties and they have a confusing family tree. According to Wikipedia, clementines are a variety of mandarin orange and mandarin oranges are a variety in the citrus family. (And kumquats may or may not be citrus fruits.) Hm.

And this is how those pretty little bright orange segments of mandarin are canned

Canned mandarin segments are peeled to remove the white pith prior to canning; otherwise, they turn bitter. Segments are peeled using a chemical process. First, the segments are scalded in hot water to loosen the skin; then they are bathed in a lye solution which digests the albedo and membranes. Finally, the segments undergo several rinses in plain water.

I’ll skip the can-darins, thanks.

where

Where I imagine my citrus fruit comes from. (Click through the painting to read about Gauguin’s masterpiece.)

Oh my darling: a clementine is a variety of mandarin orange.

They tend to be very easy to peel, like a tangerine, but are almost always seedless. For this reason they are sometimes known as seedless tangerines; the clementine is also occasionally referred to as the Algerian tangerine.

I am never going to keep this straight.

Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand. – Neil Armstrong