Citrus for the Solstice
Today is the darkest day of the year, aka winter solstice. Yeah, it's the first day of winter, beginning this evening at 7:22 ET.
The sun rose at a very tardy 7:23 a.m. and will set before today's episode of Oprah is over, at 4:49 p.m. ET, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory. Translation: We get a mere nine hours and 26 minutes of daylight.
I know -- complain, complain. In Copenhagen, where I've got a few friends, the daylight quotient shrinks to seven hours, with sunset taking place around 3:30. And let's not forget Anchorage, Alaska, which is essentially a city working in the dark, clocking in with a whopping five hours, 26 minutes of light.
But while we mope around in the dark, the one consolation about the solstice is the return of the sun, ever so slightly, beginning tomorrow. In fact, pre-Christianity Druid communities celebrated this very phenomenon, with dancing, mistletoe and the burning of "yule" logs. Sound familiar?
I don't know about you, but I find it incredibly challenging to stay awake at this time of year. Who wants to get up when the sun doesn't show its face until lunchtime? (Yes, I know I'm a crybaby.)
And speaking of lunch, I'm thinking we all could use a hearty helping of glow-in-the-dark chow. Please, scrap the notion of a family-size bag of cheese curls or a can of Cheez-Whiz immediately. The day-glo power we all need at the moment is of a naturally-occurring variety. I'm talking citrus, baby!
Right now, the produce aisle is aglow with jewels kissed by the sun that go beyond the same ole navel. The choices are many, including the kumquat, clementine, tangerine and one of my favorites, the blood orange (although this link is in Italian, the flash photography is great).
In Italian, the blood orange has a very glamorous ring -- arancia rossa. On the outside, it looks like a regular orange (save a few reddish flecks), but inside the flesh is deep red, almost plum-purple. Its flavor is just as intriguing, like an orange that rolled in the hay with a raspberry.
When I bite into one, I do feel brighter and a wee bit closer to the sun. Maybe I'm sipping Campari on a veranda in Sicily, maybe I'm in a citrus grove catching up on my tan. And maybe I finally can take off my "Mole Family Christmas" night-vision goggles. (Did anyone else love this Russell Hoban book as a kid?)
In Italy, the arancia rossa is plentiful enough to make juice by the carton possible. The pulp is so drop-dead redhead gorgeous it's enough reason to hop on a plane prontissimo.
Alas, we're lucky that California now grows these beauties, but they're available for a short time, maybe through January. Hurry before you're left in the dark!
What are your favorite ways to eat and drink away the darkness? Share in the comments area below.
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