Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ugli. Produce of Jamaica.

In Canada it's mid-winter. Wild berry season is faint memory. Nothing succulent will bear on bush or tree for months to come. For those of us raised on the perpetual bounty of the tropics, finding familiar fruity favorites can feel like a Survivor quest.

Just as the spice trade of yore seduced European tastes, so too does NAFTA's econo-facilitation of exotic imports, from unfrozen parts, keep mouths drooling when farms and farmers freeze up north.

Enterprising brokerage, serving Canadian multi-cult reality, augments produce shelves in supermarkets. The ubiquity of Jerk condiments simply isn't the whole food story, so I, for one, choose to head for the fruit displays. My new Bodum juicer has been working overtime since Christmas, and it's kept me in a citrus frame of mind.

I target various types of Orange, Grapefruit, Honey Tangerines, even Tangelos. This time the scavenger hunt yielded Ugli.

No surprise, this fruit is named for its appearance. The somewhat scrotal crumple of the external rind may be visually unbecoming, but it's an easy peel, and, nectar within is touted as being more sweet than tangy.

Ugli is a unique hybrid of Grapefruit, Orange and Tangerine. I'm told it's now grown Down Under, but this is another of those Jamaican originations the world has taken to, and a Jamaican company remains the primary patented producer.

Clearly I'm not one to ignore analogy. I find it difficult to resist extrapolation - beyond reproductive innuendo, into the realm of cultural association itself. As Jamaican in metaphor as it is in genesis, perhaps there is philosophy bred into this fruit.

Out Of Many, One People is Jamaica's motto, mirroring the composite chromosomal makeup of Ugli. Similarly, aspects of Jamaica's socio-schizoid geneology can give one impression while being something else entirely.

Fortunately, stripping away superficial layers ultimately reveals a thing of beauty. The smaller of my two fruit, suitably splayed to expose a suggestion of proto-labial fecundity, cried out to be instagrammed atop Uncle Rick's hand-crafted cake-stand. The larger one I juiced and guzzled, despite finding it not quite as sweet as propaganda promised.

Citrus lends itself easily to grafting, to wit, it's not unusual to pick Oranges and Lemons from the same tree. Come to think of it, this does beg comparison to certain complexities of the contemporary Jamaican zeitgeist.

The good. The bad. And ... the Ugli.

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