Recently, there was yet another article on the benefits of eating blueberries – they cure cancer or dementia or something. But in the winter, what I really crave is citrus. I snapped this photo of what was on my counter late last month: tomatoes from hothouses in Canada, not too far from here; papaya from Hawaii; and tangerines – no wait – clementines from Spain. Yikes! I better check the labels more closely next time. The coffee on the counter is brewed with bean from Ometepe, Nicaragua. That is okay because Bainbridge has a direct exchange with our sister island. We import the beans, roast them and resell them on behalf of farmers on one of the largest islands in the world.
Since I grew up in Southern California, we always had oranges to eat. My father once described how, as a teen during the Depression, he was so hungry he stole out to the orange groves one night and gorged on the fruit, fearful the guards would catch him and beat him. Oranges feel like a very necessary food to me, so I wonder if there are regional differences in what our bodies think we need, especially in the dark, cold months of less sunlight. Most would agree that only Inupiats really enjoy muktuk (whale fat and skin, sometimes flavored with berries) but it is hard to tell if that is cultural or physiological. In Seattle, people make much fun of lutefisk, pickled herring, but I’m sure this Scandinavian delicacy came about out of necessity.
In a traditional culture, we would have canned or preserved what was left of our bounty from the fall. We would be eating pickled vegetables, smoked fish, and yes, all sorts of berries. I will eat dried blueberries with my breakfast yogurt, but I will dream of oranges and grapefruits, their sweet, tart juices running down my throat.