In some respects I envy the continental markets where you can find lots of varieties of the same fruit and vegetables. I love combining different colours and sizes of tomatoes into salads. In amongst the various greengrocer sections will occasionally be a new size and colour combination that leaves you wondering exactly what it is. In England the nearest we have is our love of apples and our familiarity with the different types. For reference I am very fond of russet and Cox’s and I have no time for Golden Delicious. I also hunt out English apples wherever possible.
Our supermarkets still bamboozle us though when it comes to orange fruit around this time of year. When I was young I only remember the choice of oranges and “tangerines”. Mandarins were only ever seen as segments out of a can. The Satsuma emerged, as far as I can recollect, in the early 1980s. The terms appeared to be interchangeable until the last few years where I can now see a distinct sequence. My own experience is that the satsumas just before Christmas are wonderful – everything else is decidedly iffy by the time it reaches our shores.
Team Orange generally struggles to deliver consistently good fruit in the supermarkets. I work on a 50:50 success rate on seedlessness, juiciness and not finding one at the bottom the bag which is going furry these days. To confuse things further the team of tangerine, clementine, mandarin, and Satsuma have two new members – ‘easy peelers’ and Queens. It was time for me to find out what was really going on.
Satsumas are named after their ports of origin which make me think that Queens must come from New York! Easy peeler is a bit of an abomination – seemingly a catchall which allows some of the other varieties to be used up. In my experience they don’t even live up to the billing – and I’ve never felt the urge to complain about the difficulty in separating the outer layer from the segments of a Satsuma in the first place. Next we’ll be hearing about apples being sold as “Really Shinys”. While we are on the subject of adjectives replacing proper names I don’t see them rushing to name some of the orange things I’ve eaten as “Really Dry” or “More-Pips-Than-Fruit”.
Sort yourselves out supermarkets!