Posts Tagged ‘myrtifolia’

Friday, March 18, 2011

Orange Blossom Special

Orange Blossom

Clusters of waxy white orange blossom produce the distinctive and delicious scent that now perfumes the arcades of Cuxa Cloister. The bitter oranges that winter over indoors at The Cloisters are in their second week of bloom. Photograph by Corey Eilhardt

When distilled, the fragrant flowers of the bitter orange yield an essential oil that rises to the top of the vessel. The water that remains once the oil has been drawn off is known as orange flower water. This water has long been used in Middle Eastern cuisines, to perfume sugar syrups used in sweets and pastries, and to flavor beverages. Read more »

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bitter and Sweet

Citrus aurantium myrtifolia thumbnail Citrus aurantium myrtifolia detail thumbnail Unicorn Is Found (detail)

Above: Both bitter and sweet oranges were introduced into Europe from Asia, but the bitter species preceded the sweet species by five centuries. The bitter Citrus aurantium var. myrtifolia, a sport, or spontaneous mutation, of the medieval species suitable for pot culture, overwinters on the sunny side of the Cuxa Cloister arcade. The fruit of Citrus aurantium is economically important as a flavoring, although it is too bitter to eat out of hand. The sweet orange, Citrus sinensis, depicted in The Unicorn is Found, would have been introduced only about fifty years before the tapestry was designed.

The bitter orange, Citrus aurantium, spread from its native China to India in ancient times. The orange is mentioned in an early Ayurvedic medical text, Charaka Samhita. According to food historian Alan Davidson, the Sanskrit “naranga” became naranj in Arabic, narantsion in post-classical Greek, and aurantium in Late Latin. Albertus Magnus, the first medieval writer to describe the bitter orange, called the fruit “arangus,” from which the Italian arancia and the French and English “orange” all derive. Read more »