Orange You Glad I Linked to This?

October 5, 2010 § 2 Comments

Memoirist and novelist Philip Graham carries on a juicy essay/conversation with John McPhee, or at least with the first few pages of McPhee’s amazing little book Oranges, over at his blog this morning:

[McPhee writes,] Irish children take oranges to the movies, where they eat them while they watch the show, tossing the peels at each other and at people on the screen.

What must Irish movie theaters smell like, by the end of the film? A tropical plantation, perhaps, the scent—as well as those flung peels—adding its own commentary to the goings-on flashing across the screen. It seems there’s no end to the human imagination, always on the lookout to transform the potential in anything ordinary, even a piece of fruit:

Norwegian children like to remove the top of an orange, make a little hole, push a lump of sugar into it, and then suck out the juice.

When I lived in the villages of the Beng people of Ivory Coast in West Africa, I was stunned at first by the local way of drinking orange juice. With a sharp, short knife, a Beng child (usually surprisingly young) would pare the rind off an orange carefully, so as not to nick the whitish skin beneath, but also swiftly—there seemed to be a certain amount of pride connected with this. After the orange had been shorn, a complete rind would fall to the ground, like some colorful Mobius strip.

Once I picked up one of those rinds and held it tentatively back together, though now it circled air, only the idea of an orange. Anyway, when the orange had been sheared like a sheep the thirsty child would cut off a thin slice from the top, exposing the moist fruit within. Head raised and holding the top to her mouth, she’d squeeze the orange until the juice poured out—instant orange juice from an all-natural cup. Once done, the scrunched orange would be discarded on the spot, having served its function, where the nearest hungry goat would snap it up.

Read the entire Orange Essay here.

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