I have written often about my distrust of new food–that is, food that wasn’t around when I was growing up, or that you never saw in restaurants until a couple of decades ago. Some of it, like Chilean Sea Bass and Mahi-Mahi, is stuff no one wanted to eat until a clever marketing person changed its name; others, like quinoa, suddenly began being imported and touted as a super healthy food coveted by some ancient people who, despite eating it, managed to mostly disappear; and still others, like Cotton Candy Grapes®, were developed by tech food companies with names that sound like the evil corporations in a James Bond movie.
However, I’ve come across a new food that I highly recommend, although you may have to wait until next winter to try it.
Before I tell you about it, some acknowledgments. This food came to my attention via my wife Barbara, who learned about it from her sister Karen, who heard about it from her golf pro, who may have picked it up in a tip from Pete Napolitano (my wife is a bit hazy on Pete’s involvement). Pete, by the way, is an interesting guy; he’s likely the only person in the world whose Wikipedia entry contains this phrase: “best known for his weekly fruit and vegetable segments.” That’s because Pete is famous (at least in the New York and Philadelphia metro areas) as “Produce Pete,” a fellow who somehow parlayed a job as a grocer into a lifetime of being a minor celebrity. He has been on our local NBC station for as long as I can remember, seemingly without aging in the slightest. You might think that’s because he eats a lot of fruits and vegetables, but the truth is, he hasn’t appeared to age because he’s always looked like he was about 65 years old.
His Wikipedia page says he’s been on the air since the 1980’s. How could you possibly have over 30 year’s worth of things to say about produce?
But enough about Pete. Let me tell you about Sumo Citrus®, a new fruit I have been enjoying in spite of the fact that it has a registered trademark, which usually indicates a food that is not naturally-occurring, like Moondrop® Grapes (from the same conglomerate that brought us Cotton Candy Grapes).
Sumo Citrus is a type of orange, although, judging from the Sumo Citrus website, Sumo Citrus growers would prefer I didn’t say that, because not once do they use the term “Sumo Oranges.” It’s always “Sumo Citrus.”
A Sumo Orange, which is what I’m going to call it simply out of spite, looks like a horribly deformed orange, something that Tropicana would dismiss out of hand. It’s irregularly shaped, with bumpy skin and a sort of tumor on top. Their peels are so thick a vegan might consider making jackets out of them so as not to harm cows. But the tumor (the website calls it “a knot;” the growers don’t want people to call it a tumor for some reason) acts like a pop-top; you just kind of twist it to open the thing.
The actual fruit is below the tumor (I’m being spiteful again). It’s as if the folks who developed this had previously worked for Bayer Aspirin and had experience with packaging that looked twice as large as its contents (they probably would have stuffed a large wad of cotton into the Sumo Orange if they could have).
The rest of the peel comes right off, often in one piece (to make jacket production easier). Sometimes it seems as though the peel wasn’t attached to the fruit in the first place, that the meat was just bouncing around in there like a person in a Land Rover commercial. The fruit itself is really sweet and seedless, so it’s relatively neat to eat. No utensils of any kind are necessary, and you don’t have to spit stuff out.
If you’re familiar with Clementine oranges, these are even easier to peel and eat, but far bigger and tastier.
So where did these things come from?
According to the website, the Sumo is a variety of mandarin (again, never “mandarin orange”), created in Japan in the 1970s “by a citrus grower who set out to develop a fruit combining the best of the easy-to-peel Japanese mandarin with the big, juicy sweet oranges from California.”
The site claims that the Sumo is “the most prized citrus fruit in Japan and Korea where it’s so revered it’s often given as gifts between friends,” probably ordered from the Haruki & Daiju Catalog.
Now the Sumo Oranges are grown in California, but only from January through April because they have to be handpicked and I guess, after April, all the illegal immigrant pickers move on to other produce.
Anyway, if you can get your hands on one before the end of the season, give it a try. Or remember this post next January. I’ll bet you like Sumo Oranges better than Black Galaxy Tomatoes, introduced in 2012 after being developed in Israel by an evil corporation called Technological Seeds, using a pigment derived from blueberries.
Why? Because who wouldn’t want their tomatoes to be black?
See you soon.
P.S. I do not know if Sumo Oranges are Kosher for Passover, but I’m pretty sure they are Kosher for Easter.