Normally, I am full of stories. Every day, I start my classes with this: “Stories? Anyone have stories?” With only a few seconds of prompting, the students start splaying out stories, of falling and unexpected discoveries. I love hearing about their mishaps and abusrdities. They feel heard, and they hear each other. It creates community. Also, it makes me laugh.
Stories connect us all. If we truly listen to each other’s stories, we cannot dismiss each other.
I have a thousand stories. I’ve lived a wacky life — no doubt about it. There are stories about making pie for Jerry Seinfeld, falling down a flight of stairs in the Times Square subway station, drinking champagne out of gold-rimmed glasses, hiking up a mountain in Alaska, acting in commercials in Los Angeles, running across the Piazza della Signoria during a lightning storm, and waking up in a tent on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. There have been impossible love affairs, stumbling inanities, and always, ridiculous absurdities. I have a story for every situation, it seems.
Of course, when it comes to food, there are always stories. Food is never simply the ingredients or the tastes. Food, for me, evokes fond memories, urgent conversations, hilarious connections, and — always — the people with whom I am eating. Every day, and certainly for every post I put up here, I have a story.
But not this one.
Last week, I bought a dozen blood oranges. A winter gift: smooth orange skin with a blush, vivid against the grey skies. Cut through to find dark red juice cells bulging out from the knife. Hold a slice up to the light and August-dahlia reds and oranges pulse outward. A flourish, a citrus surprise, a Dali surrealism. When I cut one open, the fruit bleeds sweet juice down my tongue.
I’ve been eating them for days, knowing I wanted to write about them here. But I didn’t have a story. I could have looked up the history, concocted a tale of eating them for the first time with friends in cold climates, or tried to remember the first time I ate oranges. But no — that all feels silly here. There’s no point in forcing a story. Sometimes, it feels good to simply appreciate.
Blood oranges. Yes.
Blood orange sorbet
This recipe is remarkably similar to the Meyer lemon sorbet I posted here in December. There’s something wonderfully satisfying about a creamy citrus sorbet in the winter, the smooth coldness, the tart bite, the sting of acidic sweetness. I could make a hundred variations and still not be done eating.
I made this particular sorbet with an egg white, for an extra creaminess, but it would work just as well — or maybe even better — without it.
(Oh, and…somehow, this photograph of the sorbet came out looking a little naughty, like one of those Victorian picture books where they’d have cut-out holes where one should put the knuckles to make a saucy image. I didn’t intend it — the light dictated the angle — but I have to admit that I enjoy it now.)
one and one-half cup granulated sugar
two cups water
one cup blood orange juice
one egg white
Beat the egg white in a stand mixer until it is frothy. While you are letting it beat, boil the water and sugar together to make a simple syrup. Let the syrup boil for one minute, then slowly drizzle it into the frothy egg white.
Allow the mixture to stop steaming, cooling off just a bit.
Drizzle in the blood orange juice. Stir until just mixed.
Chill this frothy pink liquid completely in the refrigerator (at least one hour).
Put the chilled liquid in your ice cream maker and let it run for about fifteen to twenty minutes, or until it is forming a thick, frosty consistency. If you take it out at this point, before it’s completely hard, it seems to make the taste all the sharper. Transfer the sorbet into a freezer-safe dish and freeze it to desired hardness. (I like to freeze it overnight.)
Appreciate this, fully, by slowly savoring it, from the spoon to your tongue.