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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Clementine is not an old song

Oh Clemen- hand over the mouth, please, I sang that song WAY too many times when I was about 10 years old, probably off key and definitely very loudly.

I always thought Clementine was a common girl's name in Kentucky and I was grateful not to have been born there, a place where girls' feet apparently grew very large (if you don't know the song, try this).

And then I moved to Paris, the one in France, and discovered that clementine is the name of a wonderful sweet little fruit that everyone eats from November to February, with the early ones on the market coming from Spain. The French claim that a Father Clément created the fruit in Algeria at the start of the 20th century, but rumblings from China hint it had its start there, much earlier.

It garnishes every Christmas shop and New Year's tabletop in France and Switzerland. Clementine is now for me a harbinger of cold weather and good cheer. In France it has virtually replaced the once-popular mandarins.

In Switzerland we buy dozens and dozens and eat them as fast and furiously as we can. Some family members stuff ski jacket pockets with them, others nibble and dribble them (aaaaaaaagh) in the car.

Even the sun sleeps in late these days and when it finally wakes up and stretches lazily but brightly into our kitchen, we all ooh and aah as it reaches out for the wooden tray holding the clementines. And then we eat a few more of them.


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