The utterly beautiful south-western Spanish city of Seville is one of the best examples the country has for good cuisine. It boasts some of the finest flavours in the world. The tapas is to die for and the ancient seafood recipes unlike anything else in the whole of Spain. But there’s one item of your shopping basket that is perhaps the most famous in the whole of Spain, and Europe for that matter. It’s the uniquely bitter Seville oranges that literally perfume the whole area and provide the Sevillanos with plenty to be proud about.
Unlike the oranges you and I might find in our local supermarket, an orange from Seville is a Bitter Orange, which comes from the Citrus Aurantium tree. The tree is originally a native of Vietnam but which has now spread its seed throughout many other warm and sometimes wet climates. Also known as the Bigarade, the Seville Orange has skin almost like a rhino. It’s thick and it’s got pimples and because of the much higher level of pectin, which is the cell-wall, it is perfect for use in preserve-making such as jams and marmalades. The strengths of the peel make the preserve set much better and, because of the highly concentrated sharp taste, a Seville orange is also great when making flavoured alcoholic liqueurs.
The flowers of the plant also have a great use and made into orange flower water and the oils too are compressed into neroli oil, which is a great tool for aromatherapy and massage. Another rather strange use for the plant is in the world of weight-loss medicine. An extract of the peel is great for suppressing hunger and for many years, especially in China, it has acted in this medical way.
One of the even more interesting uses for the orange ties in very nicely with the Sevillanos’ love of seafood. Ceviche is a citrus-marinated seafood sauce made from the citric acid juice of the orange (and sometimes lemons and limes too). Popular in Latin America, especially in Mexico and Peru, it has become one of the signature dishes in the former Spanish colonies. It remarkably manages to denature the proteins in the seafood and, after about three or four hours, actually cooks the food without a single flame being lit. Not too far away from pickling or other types of preserving, it’s another example of just how flexible and useful every single part of this orange is.
One of the stranger lovers of Seville oranges is the Scottish town of Dundee. Not only famous for its fruitcake, the town also enjoys hundreds of years history with marmalade and it has the Seville orange to thank for it success. Since the 18th Century the likes of the Keiller have been importing the oranges and making it one of the token tastes of Scotland.
Photo of Seville oranges originally posted by alasam