Friday, January 16, 2009

The Rites and Passage of the Nicaraguan Orange

Fine. In Bluefields, personal vehicles are switched for tricked-out taxis and pangas. The coffee, rum, and tobacco products you’ve grown to know and love and develop slight-but-loveable addictions to are only memories, as fleeting as Toña’s palate. You didn’t come here to be amused, pampered, patted on the butt and given a lollipop. Lollipop? It’s next to the Camembert. You’re just asking for a thread of normalcy upon returning home after a ten-hour workday. At least eating an orange can’t possibly lead you astray.

Right? Right?

Anyone who said “right” (and especially anyone who said it aloud, to their computer screen: you, especially) should be ashamed of themselves. Put the orange down. Your long fingernails are of no consequence here. Peeling and wedging won’t win you friends.

First, grab an orange. Hint: it will not be orange. As a reliable fallback, grab a lime, which might also look like a lemon. Then grab something similar, but bigger. You’re halfway done!

Peel in a careful circle around the outside of the orange with a sharp knife, leaving the integrity of the rind intact. The first couple times, this will not make you proud of your knife-handling skills. You will not feel like Crocodile Dundee beneath a bridge (“that’s not a knife…”). Go with it. Use an Australian accent. Eat more oranges. Switch to an orange-based diet for weeks on end. Also, picking out oranges with thicker rinds will let you peel more quickly, in wider slices, without looking like a rind-poking gringo.

Cut off the top. Begin nibbling. Do whatever comes natural. Go nuts.

If you’ve successfully managed to follow the above directions, you should have nothing on your hands at the end of things, the juice safely captured in your suddenly-pliable Nicaraguan orange. Try not to get any in your nose.

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