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christmas in CT

January 5, 2011

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some photographs from the holiday in connecticut.

it’s that time of year for citrus, and i’ve been eating clementines and tangerines by the bushel. next, i’ll find blood oranges in london and eat those until spring arrives. i was reminded of MFK Fisher’s words about tangerines on Ruth Reichl’s blog and i wanted to share an excerpt here (i think this is from “serve it forth”):

“…It was then that I discovered little dried sections of tangerine. My pleasure in them is subtle and voluptuous and quite inexplicable. I can only write how they are prepared.

In the morning, in the soft sultry chamber, sit in the window peeling tangerines, three or four. Peel them gently; do not bruise them, as you watch soldiers pour past and past the corner and over the canal towards the watched Rhine. Separate each plump little pregnant crescent. If you find the Kiss, the secret section, save it for Al.

Listen to the chambermaid thumping up the pillows, and murmur encouragement to her thick Alsatian tales of l’intérieure. That is Paris, the interior, Paris or anywhere west of Strasbourg or maybe the Vosges. While she mutters of seduction and French bicyclists who ride more than wheels, tear delicately from the soft pile of sections each velvet string. You know those white pulpy strings that hold tangerines into their skins? Tear them off. Be careful.

Take yesterday’s paper (when we were in Strasbourg L’Ami du Peuple was best, because when it got hot the ink stayed on it) and spread it on top of the radiator. The maid has gone, of course – it might be hard to ignore her belligerent Alsatian glare of astonishment.

After you have put the pieces of tangerine on the paper on the hot radiator, it is best to forget about them. Al comes home, you go to a long noon dinner in the brown dining-room, afterwards maybe you have a little nip of quetsch from the bottle on the armoire. Finally he goes. You are sorry, but –

On the radiator the sections of tangerines have grown even plumper, hot and full. You carry them to the window, pull it open, and leave them for a few minutes on the packed snow of the sill. They are ready.

All afternoon you can sit, then, looking down on the corner. Afternoon papers are delivered to the kiosk. Children come home from school just as three lovely whores mince smartly into the pension’s chic tearoom. A basketful of Dutch tulips stations itself by the tram-stop, ready to tempt tired clerks at six o’clock. Finally the soldiers stump back from the Rhine. It is dark.

The sections of the tangerine are gone, and I cannot tell you why they are so magical. Perhaps it is that little shell, thin as one layer of enamel on a Chinese bowl, that crackles so tinily, so ultimately under your teeth. Or the rush of cold pulp just after it. Or the perfume. I cannot tell.

There must be someone, though, who understands what I mean. Probably everyone does, because of his own secret eatings.”

  1. January 5, 2011 8:47 am

    These are such stunning shots! I hope you had a merry Christmas, and I pray 2011 treats you well :) I look forward to your posts in the future!

  2. January 5, 2011 9:07 am

    A lovely post to happen past this morning, Brian. Happy New Year. (and the pudding!)

  3. January 5, 2011 9:27 am

    great post! and LOVE your photos! Happy New Year!

  4. January 5, 2011 9:32 am

    Again, beautiful. Love the “Fisher” excerpt!

  5. January 5, 2011 9:44 am

    this looks awfully familiar. is that in litchfield? i remember staying there a couple nights during a road trip and having some really good pizza on the main strip.

  6. January 5, 2011 11:40 am

    Oh, you kill me with food pictures!!!

  7. January 5, 2011 1:13 pm

    really beautiful post, the pictures and text. mfk fisher is one of my favorite writers about gastronomy!

  8. January 5, 2011 2:57 pm

    Christmas in Connecticut looks very cosy. The lighting in your photos is fabulous.

  9. Heather permalink
    January 5, 2011 3:04 pm

    You take the most amazing photos. They’re like dessert for the eyes! Beautiful.

  10. January 5, 2011 3:47 pm

    Thanks for the lovely words from MFK Fisher – I have a bowl of tangerines here, makes me wish I had a radiator and yesterday’s L’Ami du Peuple….

  11. January 5, 2011 4:30 pm

    They’re all beautiful. Looks like a wonderful holiday.

  12. January 5, 2011 4:44 pm

    i also spent christmas in ct – lucky to get there from brussels (and what they refer to here as a snowstorm). cheers and happy holidays.

  13. January 5, 2011 5:12 pm

    What a beautiful little moment from Ms. M.F.K.F. Makes me wish I had a radiator. Also: boozy cake! I made one for our Christmas dinner, but oddly, it sank when it came out of the oven, and it wound up dense and heavy. Yours looks much better.

  14. January 5, 2011 5:30 pm

    You brought Christmas pudding from St John! The ultimate gift. Gorgeous shots, and a perfectly chosen excerpt.

  15. Sophie permalink
    January 6, 2011 4:53 am

    Mmm, I love food stories, and this one is beautifully written… Thanks for sharing it.

  16. January 6, 2011 5:41 am

    that is a great story thanks for sharing it with us, I like the pictures a lot too

  17. Susan permalink
    January 6, 2011 7:13 am

    I’d never read that before. It is beautiful, sensual. And your photos, as always, are lovely.
    Happy New Year.

  18. January 6, 2011 8:26 pm

    love M K Fisher. thanks for sharing this!
    we have a great poet in Brazil called Ferreira Gullar, who wrote a famous poem about the smell of tangerines. he begins by saying how minerals have no smell and suddenly changes the tone to explain how that very poem is now transformed by the smell of the tangerines on the table, which transports the poet (himself, writing in the first person) in an unexpected and dreamy delirium. i can totally relate, tangerines are my favourite fruit.

  19. January 6, 2011 10:44 pm

    really lovely! i hope the warmth in these photos captured the kind of christmas you enjoyed.

  20. January 7, 2011 9:49 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful light in these photographs.

  21. January 10, 2011 3:25 am

    i was peeling an orange this afternoon thinking, where was it i read about tangerines air-curing by the heater? i thought i read it in atonement, but alas it was the always glorious MFK. thank you for reminding me of this!


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