Throughout my childhood in Central Florida, I always had orange trees in my backyard. Occasionally my friends and I picked the fruit to eat, but mostly we used the trees for climbing and as bases for kickball and tag.
It wasn’t until I went away to college in Colorado that I truly began to appreciate my family’s modest crop. When I’d return home for the holidays, the oranges would be at their peak. I relished my newfound morning routine of picking as much fruit as I could carry and making fresh juice for my mom and me. “This is Florida,” I would think to myself.
Oranges have long been one of my favorite fruits, likely because each bite reminds me of home. I look forward to orange season every year and always feel a twinge of sadness as the season wanes.
When I’m not consuming my oranges in juice form, I tend to eat them in sections. I love the spray that lingers on my hands after peeling off the bitter skin, and the anticipation on my tongue before biting in. My taste buds gurgle as I try to guess which flavor will dominate – the sour or the sweet? And I hope above all that the fruit will be juicy, and that the beads of pulp will burst open in my mouth.
I don’t usually embellish my oranges, but a common way to eat the fruit here in Spain has made me reconsider. For the simple addition of cinnamon and honey can elevate my favorite backyard snack into a more refined dessert with exotic airs. Each bite contains the familiar sweetness of my Florida childhood with spicy notes from afar.
The orange has grown up indeed.
Oranges with Cinnamon and Honey
I have provided a base recipe, although this dish lends itself to experimentation. Try it with different varieties of oranges, either all sweet, such as Navel, Valencia and Temple, or mix up the flavor and color by adding a blood orange. I am a fan of early oranges, whose acidic bite adds complexity. If the fruit is really sweet, the dish stands on its own with very little or even without honey.
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
Peel oranges, removing as much of the bitter white pith as you can. Slice peeled fruit crosswise into rounds about 1/4-inch thick. I like to do these steps over the serving plate to catch the juice.
Arrange slices in overlapping concentric circles around the plate.
Drizzle oranges with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Allow to stand for about 10 minutes to give honey a chance to soak in. But don’t wait too long, for the fruit loses nutrients over time.
(I have been known to pick up the plate and slurp, once all the slices have been eaten, of course.)
Yield: 2-4 servings
- You can also make a juice version using the same ingredients, which is a particularly flavorful way to fend off a cold. Squeeze the oranges and stir in honey and cinnamon to taste.
- Use 1/2 teaspoon sugar instead of honey.