How to eat an orange

There's more to it than you might think

I try to follow the food rules’ advice and eat plenty of fresh fruit every day. Sometimes it’s easier than others. Stop and think about the hassles involved in consuming the variety of fruits usually available to us.

I’d vote for the banana as the tidiest fruit to eat out of hand. Of course it has to be at just that perfect stage of ripeness to win this contest. Too green, and one can’t snap open the skin without mangling the fruit or giving up and going to fetch a knife to cut off the resistant tip; too ripe, and one has to somehow/somewhere dispose of the mushy, brown bits. Overall, though, the banana is neat — no tools to access it, no sticky fingers and dribbley chin afterwards; just a good helping of flavor and a dash of potassium to keep one’s heart in step. Skin disposal and slip prevention may pose the only problem with the sweetly curved banana snack.

But then there’s the orange — another subtropical sphere laden (we hope) with Vitamin C, and a sunny colour inviting us to enjoy. Alas, oranges are difficult; tasty and healthy, yes, but messy — unless someone else has carefully presented it in a dish with a spoon.

Much of an orange’s pleasure depends upon how we attack its sturdy skin. If it’s an orange not to closely attached to its protective covering we can use what I call the poles and time zones method.

With a good sharp knife, remove a slice of the skin from both the stem and blossom (or navel) ends. 

Then gently score the skin longitudinally from top to bottom. This done, insert the thumb nail under the open end of a ‘time zone’ and pull it away from the flesh; repeat with each section till the orange is naked.

This accomplished, the orange can usually be easily broken into sections and each section popped into the mouth with a minimum of mess.

Here’s another method of enjoying an orange. It’s best done outdoors, or in old clothes, or while wearing a bib with a large napkin to hand. For my mother, who taught it to me, this method was the epitome of orange-eating bliss.

Take one orange and wash the skin. Place the orange on counter or table and gently but firmly roll the orange back and forth, turning it to put pressure on every side. Do this until the orange starts to feel slightly squishy, but stop before it cracks open!

When the orange feels suitably soft, take a good-sized bite out of one end. Now bliss time is here. Relax, and with the open end of the orange pressed tightly to your mouth, press with fingers of both hands on the orange while sucking at the opening and feeling the exquisite sweetness of the juice flood your mouth. 

But wait, there’s more ‘yum’ to come. Take your poor battered orange, and pull it completely open, exposing the crushed flesh within. Break what’s left into manageable pieces, skin and all. Now use your fingers to turn each piece sort of ‘inside out’, raise it to your lips and use your teeth to pull the orange pulp into your mouth. Chew, savor, and swallow. Continue until all the pieces have been consumed. Compost the rinds.

One orange, and you’ve enjoyed it twice!

— Nancy Whelan is a regular News columnist.


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