A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Hooptedoodle #157 - Happy Tangerines to Everyone


Christmas is coming – among other clues, I can tell since I can no longer bear to switch on the TV because the advertising gives me hives, and also our washing machine has broken down and cannot be fixed until the 29th.

This morning’s breakfast fruit reminded me of Christmases in my childhood – there were certain comestibles which I always associated with Christmas at home. I’m not talking about obvious stuff, like turkeys (I never had turkey for Christmas until I was well into my teens – we used to have a goose, sometimes a duck); I can remember my mum making her own mincemeat (to save money, I would guess), and I recall dates (in those distinctive boxes with a camel and a palm tree on the label), walnuts (which I have never cared for) and – in particular – tangerines.

At the bottom of my Christmas stocking, the tradition was that I would always find a couple of tangerines and a silver sixpence. I have no idea how Father Christmas remembered every year, nor how he carted around great masses of tangerines – assuming everyone got them, but they were always there.

I knew that you could buy tangerines at any time of the year, of course, but it seems that we didn’t, and it was such a Christmassy thing in our family that it would have seemed wrong somehow. A tangerine was smaller than an orange, and had a completely different taste – I liked them.

Tangerines seem to be regarded with special affection in folk lore, too – as I recall, both Blackpool FC and Dundee United were always called the Tangerines – not merely the Oranges.


Anyway, today’s idle question is, what became of the tangerine? Whatever it says on the supermarket shelves is gospel, as we know. We went through a period of buying something called mandarin oranges, which were small oranges, but I’m not sure they were tangerines, as in proper tangerines. Nowadays we can get clementines, which to me just seem like small oranges, and we can get satsumas, which I guess must be the same as, or very similar to, tangerines, but they don’t seem to taste just quite the same.

I hasten to add that I enjoy my breakfast satsumas, but I would be sad to think that the tangerine, like the real banana, had succumbed to progress. Any tangerine fanciers/experts out there?

By the way – in passing – the washing machine problem. Bosch’s customer service very nearly got a Donkey Award this morning, but are spared at the last minute. Bosch cannot arrange an engineer visit unless you can give them some numbers from a plate mounted inside the door of the machine. You can see what’s coming: part of the problem with our machine was that we couldn’t open the door. Eventually we did manage to get it open, so the visit is booked, but if we had not opened it then we could not have had an engineer. Seems odd, but we’ll let it go, in the euphoria of having been granted a reprieve. The engineer’s visit, of course, costs £95, excluding parts, and even if he does nothing or cannot fix the machine, the £95 is compulsory. We’ll see how it goes – we went through this scenario in 2008, when the charge was only £69, which is still a handsome fee for telling someone their machine is knackered. You may have your own views on after-sales service scams, but it’s Christmas and for a little while I shall simply believe that a nice man will come and fix our machine. I have the paperwork for the Donkey Award standing by, though, just in case.

I wish everyone a contented and peaceful Christmas – may your satsumas be sweet and your rinse cycle run smoothly – may your eyes be bright and your clothes be dew fresh every day.

Have a good one.

18 comments:

  1. A Merry Christmas to you and yours , Tony

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    1. Bless you sir! The same to you - I look forward to continuing to enjoy your blog next year!

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  2. Thanks fr the Christmas wishes TOny and the same to you all!

    BTW, when our Bosch fridge went west a while ago, the Bosch engineer (who advisd ius to change it soonish) told us that much of the Bosch kit in the UK was made in Spain and, I think, Italy. Bit of a bummer for my 'let's get German quality' drive. We took his recommendation and bought a Samsung. :O/

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    1. Merry Christmas, Gary - I feel in my bones that the washing machine saga will not go well. Worst bit of this here is that the washing machine sits in a tight corner of a very small laundry room, with the tumble dryer racked on top - very convenient when things go well, but moving anything requires removal of the laundry door, heavy reinforcement of groins etc.

      Ach well - what else would I do with my money?

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  3. Wishing you and yours the same in return, Tony.
    The tangerine in the toe of the Christmas stocking was a tradition in my family too. I don't know if it came over to Canada with my mother, who was an English war bride, or if it goes back earlier. No one to ask now. I was looking at mandarin oranges in the store the other day and it never occurred to me to wonder what happened to the tangerine - I suppose I thought tangerines and mandarins were synonyms. That's why I come to your blog, for the many things to ponder. :)

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    1. Very best wishes, Michael - and thank you.

      It seems that the tangerine season is from August to March (in their native Morocco), which probably explains the Christmas seasonality. I read somewhere that the traditional idea that fruit is luxurious or a delicacy for special occasions may come from the supply of lemons to the Royal Navy to combat scurvy, though I'll have to think about that for a while to make sense of it.

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  4. Perhaps it was just a tangerine dream? A Merry Christmas to you!

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    1. Merry Christmas, Ian - to you and your lot! - isn't it about time you were visiting relatives in Scotland? You have my number...

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  5. Tangerines definitely disappeared from the Christmas scene around the 1980s. But why? I don't think the Mandarin or Clementine are upgrades in small citrus fruit terms. If anything they're less tasty. Perhaps it's the ease of peeling. Which makes it the perfect metaphor for these modern times.

    Anyway. The season's best to you sir. Thanks for another great year of entertaining diversions.

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    1. Thanks, Chris - all the very best to you. I must do some more research on this - could there be a market for genuine (retro) tangerines? Hmmm.

      As we have discussed, even nostalgia is not what it used to be.

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  6. Only had a couple of Tangerines in my life but big fat oranges came in the toe of the stocking. My big treat at Christmas that I look forward to are the crates of Clementines from Morocco. Not only is the fruit good but the triangular profile supports and thin wooden slats from the crates make excellent material for wargame buildings esp trenches.

    Happy Yuletide!

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    1. Thank you Ross - all the best to you.

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  7. Try http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4552658.stm

    It does seem that the taste has gone down the path of the banana too then.

    Merry Christmas and I hope the washing machine goes well!


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    1. Merry Christmas Matt - late development is that my wife has just brought in a bag of tangerines from Marks & Spencer - these are actually labelled as tangerines (though from Spain, not from Tangiers) - M&S also had satsumas and clementines. I shall sample these with interest.

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    2. Marks and Sparkes eh. Well this year I'm favouring John-Lewis.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FqeTerEPwE

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    3. Thanks for this link - I'd seen part of this before and it's excellent. Great fun.

      Football not a great topic in our household recently - my wife thinks I now support a team called Liverpool Nil.

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    4. Think yourself lucky Tony. I support Grimsby.

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  8. When you pull a tangerine off the tree in Sarasota a piece of the skin can stay on the limb. Makes it even easier to start peeling. The peel can be removed as one whole section. None of the fruits mentioned top the flavor of a fresh local tangerine. They are delicate to ship, so all these other cross breeds have emerged. Growing up in Florida, mom always had them in our stocking. My kids want nothing of them in their's. I recently liked this last batch of mandarins. As years go by you learn to enjoy what's available.

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