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Monday, November 7, 2011

Holy Mandarin Oranges (Batman)!

I have always loved mandarin oranges.  

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Perhaps because they've got that whole 'exclusive self-limitation' thing going on - only being available (here in N.A. at any rate) for a very brief couple of months around the end of the year.

Or, perhaps because of my own romanticized associations with them, receiving them in Christmas stockings, and devouring countless of them in the dead, desolate, dark of an Edmontonian winter.

Regardless, I can't remember ever having a Christmas without them.  In fact, I've even heard some of my older relatives refer to them simply as "Christmas Oranges".

So, when my wife and I moved out here to Toronto in 2003, it was with very heavy hearts that we realized they weren't very easily found.  We spent the first two years sadly assuming that they weren't available here.  

We found no shortage of something called "Clementines" which many a grocer tried to pass off as true mandarin oranges.  They even package them similarly - small rectangular cardboard boxes - and are available only at the same time of year.  I've since learned that Clementines are in fact, a species of mandarin orange, however they are nowhere near the same, and pale in comparison (in our desperation and tentative excitement, one year, we gave them a try... and neither of us could even finish the box).  Clementines lack the pleasant sourness of true Mandarins, and as a result, taste almost sickly saccharine.  Disgusting.

So it was with immense joy that we discovered a large display of crates labelled "Mandarin Oranges", about 5 years ago, in Loblaws one Christmas.

To this day I'm unsure if all the many grocery stores we visited from November to January previously, were just coincidentally OUT of stock, or if they in fact never stocked them as regular inventory at all...  

The locals with whom we've chatted about this subject all seem to be confused on the very distinction between Clementines and Mandarin Oranges, if they even pay any attention to them at all!!!

But, in any case, they've been available every year since then, without fail, and in many different places...

I like to tell myself that they just started carrying them for us.

In any case, you can imagine how - an item which already had an "exclusive-self-limiting' allure to it, before our three-year unintentional deprivation - we were even more excited about buying up as many boxes of this stuff as we could every year since.

And it's true - we both get a special excitement when we first see them on sale now, and in any given three-month period it is not uncommon for us to go through almost a dozen boxes just between the two of us!

That's a lot of oranges.

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