It’s citrus season here in Italy. Last week we picked lemons from the tree in Roberta’s garden in Puglia. Everywhere I turn I see huge bins of clementines, many with leaves still attached to their broken stems. Navel oranges do not rule supreme here. The Sicilian Tarocco does. Carla tells me it is her favorite, and the most popular of the three blood orange varieties (including also Moro and Sanguinello).
Once considered as an ornamental or religious symbol of wealth and prestige, blood oranges became popular with the arrival of the Arabs. In Sicily, the blood orange has IGP (indicazione geografica protetta) status. Here’s what Produce Pete has to say about the Tarocco:
Tarocco: The most popular table orange in Italy, the Tarocco, is thought to have derived from a mutation of the “Sanguinello”. It is referred to as “half-blood” because the flesh is not accentuated in red pigmentation as much as Moro and Sanguinello varieties. It has thin orange skin, slightly blushed in red tones. The Tarocco is one of the world’s most popular oranges because of its sweetness (brix to acid ratio is generally above 12.0) and juciness. It has the highest Vitamin C content of any orange variety grown in the world, due primarily to the fertile soil surrounding Mount Etna, and it is easy to peel. The Tarocco orange is seedless, and it contains antocyanins, as do other blood oranges. The name, “Tarocco” is thought to have derived from an exclamation of wonder expressed by the farmer who was shown this fruit by its discoverer.
Carla’s been making spremute (fresh squeezed orange juice) with these oranges; we’ve been eating the clementines after meals. Oh, happy days!