Guidos Fresh Marketplace has Seville oranges, so it’s marmelade season. I stopped in the other day and got some for the first time in years, and on Tuesday I cooked them while I transcribed an interview about modern dancers who move like saplings. The jam gelled beautifully too.
Seville oranges only come in mid-winter. They’re tart and thick on peel. These days only exist for making tangy golden-orange jam. And I’m lucky they’re here — or anywhere.
Not everyone wants an orange as sharp as a lemon. The Scotsman tells me that Seville only grows bitter oranges now for the marmalade market, 15,000 tons of them. Orange trees line the city streets there the way we had elm trees once.
The market is shrinking, I hear. And I’d be sorry to see it go, and not only because homemade marmalade has a kick and a name like nothing else. I imagine those calles, those old streets lined with blossom — the Seville oranges I brought home are soft and bright.
And I remember the one time I walked through Seville in summer with my family. We saw the arches and fine stonework of the alcazar, the trumpet flowers and roses in the gardens, and my brother and sister sketched tiles of 12-pointed stars.
We walked up past the old cigar factory where Carmen worked in the short story that inspired the opera and found a city park where ducks swam in the fountains. Horses drew carriages along wide sand paths lined with its sycamores, and and we stumbled on a round pool where giant green ceramic frogs perch on the rim.
Maybe that’s also why I like making marmelade on a cold day in February. It’s bracing and absurd and beautiful, and it holds onto the sun.