Pith gear

Look, a satsuma! I know that it’s one of those, rather than a tangerine or a clementine, because there is a label on the satsuma, and “satsuma” is written on the label, in white uppercase letters on a dark blue background.

I ought to confess that the exciting bit of the satsuma is actually inside my tummy. Just the skin and its attached label remain. This has been the case for quite some time, and in fact by now the flesh has probably been digested and then farted out and things. The skin is by now fairly shrivelled, but maybe not quite as universally shrivelled as it should really be after all this time – I am disappointed.

Don’t get any ideas – I by no means make a habit of leaving satsuma skins on my desk. (That’s why the slow rate of shrivelling was a surprise. How could I know what to expect?) This could explain why I am compelled to mention it now. It is a novelty, and so this is not a fascinating insight into my daily life. I might start to make a habit of it, though, because as it sat there, day after day, it sort of nagged me to disturb this blog. (I have decided to take a leaf out of King’s Lynn’s Lynn News newspaper’s book, by publishing something every Tuesday and Friday – I promise.)

The satsuma, I think, was quite nice – not that I can really remember. Often, a balance of depth of flavour and ease of peeling can be pretty elusive, but this was not a problem here either. I pride myself on being able to peel fruit so that the skin stays in one piece, and this was no exception. I shall never be one of those people who shred the peel into hundreds of little pieces. However, while a connoisseur’s peelings can often be rearranged to give the illusion of a full orange, the shrivelling has ruled that out here.

The white stuff that’s neither the flesh nor the skin of an orange is known as the “pith”. If a person has a lisp, there can be a bit of confusion, but it feels like an appropriate word, until you come across the (quite horrible) adjective “pithy”. (Further lisp confusion potential here, although without the possibility of the idea being that the juice looks a bit like wee.)

Now, I sometimes eat the pith, when I’m a bit desperate, and my bowels probably rejoice when that happens, but it’s not the main attraction, and it never seems wasteful to fling it straight at the compost heap. An overly pithy orange is a bit annoying. When boredom strikes, it is fun to (quite unnecessarily) remove the pith, out of respect to the orange, in case it improves the experience, and the time that takes can be inconveniently close to forever. Although the pith is arguably a good, wholesome thing, often useful for innovatively mopping up juices (you should try it), it’s not really related to terse cogency, is it?

(Was it Mo Mowlam or Ann Widdecombe who appeared on Ready, Steady, Cook! some time ago and grated well beyond the zest of a lemon or maybe an orange? What an idiot!)

The label of the satsuma doesn’t just contain the word “satsuma”, of course – they rarely do. But rather than saying any more now, I shall cunningly shut up and return to this subject another time. (On Tuesday, perhaps?)