The last of the orange blossoms

April 2012

Little did I realize the meaning of chronic pain until I was subjected to a shoulder spasm that is now entering its seventh month.      

    How the spasm came about remains a subject of debate, but my personal opinion points to a terrible posture, and to many, way too many hours spent at the computer.  And so, I find myself having to ration my time at the keyboard (not a bad thing!) May this post serve as a cautionary tale! Don't sit for too long in front of the screen, and get up every 15 minutes to stretch! 

    Lying in bed, flat on my back, allows me to out out of our bedroom window at a row of citrus, from oranges, lemons, tangerines, limes, to the delightfully sweet "cocktail grapefruit."

     The blossoming citrus brightens my day. Among the branches I can detect a flurry of activity. Elusive hummingbirds suck up nectar from the delicate blossoms. Graceful turtle doves peck at worms in the moist carpet of mulch. Late afternoon brings on bees flitting from flower to flower. And once, I woke up to a snow like blanket of petals covering the ground after a winter storm.  For me, the glory of our citrus blossoms lies in inhaling their heady fragrance.

    In the introduction to The Scent of Orange Blossoms: Sephardic Cuisine from Morocco, my co-author, Danielle Mamane, and I, attempted to put into words the magic of orange  blossoms for North Africans.

     “Like Proust biting into a madeleine and recalling his lost youth, the subtle fragrance of orange blossoms (harks back to) balmy evenings in Fez or Tétouan, when the heady scent of citrus heralds the onset of spring . . .  and fragrant mint tea enhanced with freshly picked citrus flowers . . .”

   Before the petals fell off, I froze a few (yes! they do freeze!) just so I could offer you a glass of mint tea, à la Fassia:

Mint Tea with Orange Blossoms

Makes 5 1/2 cups

1 tablespoon looseleaf Chinese green tea

6 cups boiling water

1/2 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)

Generous bouquet of fresh spearmint 

3 fresh orange blossoms

Rinse pot with 1/2 cup boiling water. Discard water. Add green tea and remaining boiling water. Steep 2 to 3 minutes. Add mint, and let stand for 3 to 4 minutes. Add orange blossoms, sugar to taste, and serve.

Until next time (after a few more weeks of stretching!)


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