Monday, 11 February 2008

Oranges... Mandarins... Orange you confused?

I read something recently but can't for the life of me remember where I read it. Well anyway the reasons that oranges, mandarins, and kumquats are passed around and given around Chinese New Year time is because Mandarin Orange 柑 - the name of the fruit is phonetically similar to gold -- jin ju (金橘子) in Mandarin or kam (金) in Cantonese. Another explanation is that the Mandarin word for mandarin oranges is ju (橘), which sounds like ji (吉) (ji xiang 吉 祥) meaning good luck.

and here

Anyway, for those that don't know my distant relatives live in the same building as us just a couple of floors below, and we also share the same ayi. Every night bar one since I got back from Taiwan I've been eating dinner in their house. And every night my great aunt says to me, "Take some mandarins...". I did this reluctantly just to be polite. As mentioned before I don't have a big interest in food so I just took them out of politeness.

I had nowhere to put them or hold them so she started putting them in my jacket pocket. It was quite funny to see my pockets stuffed with them but I must've forgotten about them because the next night when I went down there for dinner again and she said again, "Take some mandarins..." I grabbed a bunch (these mandarins are tiny - about the size of a ping pong ball, btw) and I was about to put them into my pocket when I realised my pockets were already full!

Not knowing what to do (and feeling a little foolish and embarrassed!) I quickly said, "Oh I still have lots at home I haven't eaten yet..." and quickly changed the topic. Well the 'at home' part wasn't exactly the truth, but the 'haven't eaten part' was true!

So of course as soon as I got home I quickly took them out of my pocket and put them in the fruit bowl on the dining table. Then, of course I had to try one. I am not sure how common these mandarins are in China but in Australia they don't really exist. They are tiny! So I went to the kitchen and started peeling it and popped the entire thing in my mouth. Oh. My. God. It was so sweet and delicious. It was so amazingly sweet and juicy (and I normally don't like citrus fruits at all...) It was heavenly. I quickly then ate another two. And more. And soon they were all gone. Yep, all of them.

The third night when I went down for dinner I didn't wait for her to ask me.. I asked her if I could take some (more)! Ha!

PS When I was younger and people asked if I spoke Mandarin I would be a smartarse and answer, "No, but I speak Orange" and they'd look and me funny and some people would wonder if Orange actually was a language! Oh dear... :)

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