A Christmas Orange

Very quickly today as it’s Friday night and for once I have plans for the evening that include leaving the apartment (for real!).

I grew up in Poland. I was seven when Communism fell in my country. I didn’t really understand what that meant at the time. What I did understand was that suddenly (and in my memory it feels like it happened overnight, which I’m sure isn’t quite right) the shops became a lot more colourful and filled with chocolate, candy bars, fizzy drinks, oranges and bananas. All of these things I had before, but they were rarities, things you got for Christmas or birthday, or when your uncle from Germany visited, or when you were really sick and unable to enjoy them. Day to day I was more accustomed to wondrous inventions like warm ice cream (don’t ask), condensed sweetened gooey milky stuff in a tube and the crown jewel of the 80-s sweets – ‘chocolate-like product’ (seriously, that’s what it was called on a wrapper!). It kind of looked like chocolate but that’s where the similarity ended. I’m not sure what made it brown as I’m fairly certain it contained zero cocoa. Wiki tells me it’s called ‘compound chocolate’ in English but upon reading the entry, that’s a fancy version of what it was in Poland in the 80-s.

But this was meant to be about oranges. The thing is, these days, I’m not even all that keen on them. I don’t dislike them – they’re just not my first choice of fruit. But once in a little while I do look at the piles of them in any shop, apart from apples they really are the most ubiquitous fruit, and remember the joy of opening the gifts on Christmas Eve (that’s how we do it in Poland). Among the inevitable books and crayons (this is not a complaint, these were the items I usually requested), a couple of chocolate bars, the clothes and whatever else, there always would be one glorious, individually wrapped, great juicy orange just for me to eat. A Christmas Orange.  Maybe that is why oranges are no longer among my favourites. It was once a unique and special treat. It tasted heavenly, of sun and splash of colour, and of some better place to be. I have that flavour template in my head and no actual present day orange can ever equal it.

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