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…kumquats…

It all started innocuously enough – a random conversation about persimmons with some stranger I almost, sort of, know and have somewhat regular conversations with – which eventually morphed into the topic of fall fruits and eventually things like kumquats. I mentioned to this stranger that I’ve tried them twice – the first time simply popping it into my mouth – which yielded such a grotesque note of bitter that I had to spit it out. That’s saying a lot actually. I like bitter. I love bitter. Nothing about bitter has ever given me reason to think it’s not utterly wonderful wrangling around my palatte, with the sole exception of a kumquat…

True to form, and with some deep knowledge I’ll never quite possess, said stranger talks me out of my bias, and reveals, with descriptive license, that there’s a secret to eating kumquats. It must be massaged, firmly, yet delicately, between the first two fingers and the thumb, rolling it back and forth to effectively bruise it, mashing around the fruit and the oils, the bitter and the sweet. Then, and only then is it worthy of consumption. Not only that, but said stranger insists they’re quite sweet that way, and is confident that I’ll probably like them.

Luck being as it is from time to time; the once abundant kumquats at the grocery store have all but disappeared, so I’ve not actually had a chance to try them again. It’s become a sort of secondary mission in life this past week, combing various shops and fruit stands to see if anybody has them. Seemingly, none do, though I’ve spent ample time pondering the day that I eventually find them again…

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The two fingered technique – I’m assuming that this is the way it’s supposed to go down – but since I’m visual, I immediately wonder…

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…about the merits of a three finger technique! I think, actually this might be better – you’ve got in the middle the upward profile of a finger with a couple of gutters on either side to stop it – what better way to really sort of mash it around a bit?

Because I can imagine certain pitfalls with the simple two fingered technique…

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I’ll backtrack for a second and admit – after some analysis, I’m assuming that underhand is far better than overhand when massaging a kumquat. It seems intuitive, though logical as well; underhand only gives you a thumb to balance the thing on, which makes ejection a very likely outcome. What bothers me about the two finger approach is that to mash it, you roll it up onto either finger – it seems like it’s a given that the fruit may very well roll away freely to either side…

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Another pitfall, perhaps, is that when rolling it around, oils release from the rind and coat your fingers. I enquired as to whether or not one was to lick those oils from their fingers at the time of consumption, though no definitive answer was given. It’s an option, I suppose, at this point… More important though, the thought of overworking it made me imagine that one could easily lose the kumquat to the ‘watermelon seed’ effect – having it spurt spontaneously outward from your finger tips as a result of oily, slick skin.

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Then, of course, there’s the possibility of simply applying too much pressure and winding up with it exploding like a ketchup packet… When this happens, you know you’ve done it wrong. At least that’s what I would imagine…

Often, it seems, the simplest of things always have a bigger story behind them, a secret, subtleties, a way they want to be treated. I don’t know if I’ll enjoy kumquats when I eventually find them, but I will never see them quite the same.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “…kumquats…

  1. I remember the first time I had kumquats… An older woman,, who was also an old hippie who was attending a volunteer training I was giving, was snacking on them. My curiosity got the best of me, and since I love citrus fruits, I had to ask to try… The first one I just popped into my mouth, the bitter than the sweet burst like nothing else I had ever tried before. But she told me of the method you have written about in this post! Her name was Maria… Thank you for the sparking that wonderful memory….. I want a bush; here they grow really well! But for now I have to settle for my figs that are ready to harvest, and see if we have any kumquats at the market! Thanks!!

    Posted by Mamapotpie | November 8, 2012, 4:24 am
  2. Ripe…really, really ripe is what I have always heard from my deeply southern mama:)

    Posted by angie | November 11, 2012, 4:12 am

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