Friday, February 18, 2011

Foodstuff Friday: dogs {of orange}

My family was not prone to appreciation of the precious, of sausage-curled tots who might wander to our table at a deli. My father had names for them:  Shirley and Seymour.  He mocked them (not in their kewpie-doll presence, but still...)... "Helllooooo, Mister Man." (His imitation.)

My sisters and I stayed seated, and while not entirely silent--our parents weren't Be-courteous or Sorry-for-Sin (two Puritan names--see Charles Bardsley's Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature, 1880)--we sensed that though we might be intellectually superior to tots who freely addressed strangers in a deli without fear of reprisal, freedom aced out intellect. We were verbally free. That's something.

We did have, however, a cute name for orange sections. Dogs. Lore was that one of my father's brothers made it up. To make dogs: Cut the orange in half, north to south pole, then half those sections.

Oranges? Royalty roly poly bright.  They were not unlike the hem of Jesus--touch that or eat an orange.  Either way you would be cured. They were chicken soup, ginger ale and a kiss from my mom, rolled in one.

The cutting into sections is, I assume, universal and especially so in families where many grubby fingers wiggle toward the sweet.  Here's Lisel Mueller on oranges. Such a good poet.

Blood Oranges

In 1936, a child
in Hitler's Germany,
what did I know about the war in Spain?
Andalusia was a tango
on a wind-up gramophone,
Franco a hero's face in the paper.
No one told me about a poet
for whose sake I might have learned Spanish
bleeding to death on a barren hill.
All I knew of Spain
were those precious imported treats
we splurged on for Christmas.
I remember pulling the sections apart,
lining them up, sucking each one
slowly, so the red sweetness
would last and last --
while I was reading a poem
by a long-dead German poet
in which the woods stood safe
under the moon's milky eye
and the white fog in the meadows
aspired to become lighter than air.
Lisel Mueller

1 comment:

  1. 1...Lisel Mueller long a favorite of mine
    2...The blood of the orange here made potent by contexttualizing!
    3...Coincidence of having purchased a bag of those ruby treats for myself earlier today.