Sweet orange beginnings
Ever since I was a child, I always associated cold weather and especially Christmas with the smell of oranges. Ironically, because they need hot weather in order to get ripe and sweet. I would get an extra dosage when I got the flu, because vitamin C had “miraculous” healing powers.
First encounter with orange trees up close as a teenager
When I went to Greece for the first time as a teenager, I saw an abundance of orange trees in the streets, full with the delicious-looking ripe fruits. Up until that point I had not thought of where they come from. They always came to me in a box, or in a bag. I also wondered how those trees are STILL full of ripe fruits. Was everybody else seeing them? Or was it illegal to take? I was too shy at that time to take one myself. Or even ask that question.
I would find out years later, while in a similar situation in Portugal. Those oranges were only LOOKING delicious, but, in fact, tasted very sour, a local told me. Once again, I had not tested them. So I will keep wondering if that was really the case.
The highlight of living in Portugal
I moved to Lisbon for about a year and what’s interesting is that I always connected Portugal with oranges. That’s because in my language, the word for orange is very similar with the name of the country, “portocala”. When I was living in Portugal, a local asked me what I like the most about being there. And I said “the oranges”. He looked at me confused. “I thought you were going to say that you liked the people, or the food.”
“Still the oranges”, I replied.
After taking a moment to compose himself, maybe his ego slightly bruised by my lack of expected praise, he asked why.
“Because they really are the best I have ever had. And because I always thought of Portugal as the land of oranges.”
Now that shocked him. He had never heard this before, nor did he know that for an entire country, the name of his motherland is deeply associated with a fruit.
I tried to back up my case with associations of the word in the other languages I spoke. It didn’t work in English, Spanish(naranja), Italian(arancia),Norwegian(appelsin) or French(orange). I looked it up and found out that there is a simple reason for this: the Portuguese merchants were the first to introduce this fruit to some regions of Europe. That’s why in Greek, Turkish, Macedonian, Persian, Bulgarian and Albanian, the world is similar to the name of the country.
Orange you glad you read this?