Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Satsuma

Around mid-January, as the fruit bowl looks a little empty, you turn again to the over-sized string bag of satsumas you bought for Christmas, when you were full of enthusiasm for the excitements of the season to come. There are still half a dozen left after others have played their roles in stockings and for snacking. They look great, so you refill the bowl.

Picking one, almost at random, you turn it in your hand. It's skin has sunk and loosened a little, now you come to look at it closely. It's pock-marked. No matter. It'll be great. 

You pierce it with your thumbnail and start peeling until you have a neat sphere of pith-free segments, and are ready for them to live up to their early promise: a great taste, great juice, and greatest of all, no pips.

You pop the first one onto your tongue and bite, but instead of sweetness, your mouth is filled with cotton rags, and for a moment you can't speak.

You spit it out, disgusted and look again. Some of the pieces are very dry, as if they have run out of any idea or pretence of being a satsuma. Some are distinctly brown with the early stages of rot.

You throw the whole thing in the bin and think about trying another, which you know, deep in your heart, is utterly pointless.

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