Winter’s main squeeze

Melissa Leong presents an ode to citrus. It’s the perfect fruit for all winter days – especially those dramatically altered by climate change.

Most fortnights, my long-suffering editor Phoebe  sends me an email, reminding me that my column is about to be late…again. It’s not that I don’t love writing for Ciao, but sometimes it seems to be that one crazy work project after a whole lot of other crazy projects I have to do. All these projects get in the way of being able to sit down with a cup of tea, and sit with my Ciao thoughts. Chai and Ciao? If only I had more time.

For this particular issue, perhaps all that procrastinating has worked in my favour. The wintery, ‘Christmas in July’ theme has well and truly been thwarted by a bout of 24 degree weather, rendering all channellings of cosy fireside chatter utterly useless. Today it’s strangely warm and humid.

For anyone wondering whether we might have a climate problem, I offer you Exhibit A: outside your window.

So what does one cook, when you’re in the mood for cosy, but it’s just too damned hot? Strolling through the aisles at my local grocer today, I think the answer has to be citrus.

Nature has a way of giving us what we need, when we need it. When it comes to glowing orbs of zesty goodness, all that vitamin C arrives perfectly in time for when a cold is likely on its way. Where a warm winter is concerned, citrus still manages to transcend the heat, offering refreshing respite.

Blood orange and fennel salads offer crisp and cooling contrast to grilled fish or a Sunday lamb roast, while chilled mandarins make for cool snacks. Personally, I prefer my citrus in the form of a wedge of blood orange in my Negroni, but that may be more about the week I’m having rather than anything else.

So go forth and get thee something bright orange; might as well use sunshine as your culinary inspiration while it’s shining on us.

Words: Melissa Leong,