This is a real problem, as living here in the Algarve, if there’s one word you REALLY do need to be able to say, it’s ‘orange’. Whether it’s because you want some freshly squished with your tosta mista, or you are simply saying what flavour of that fabulous fizz ‘Sumol’ you want (because even though I have no trouble saying ‘ananás’*, I’m sorry orange is the original and best) being able to say ‘laranja’ in a cool and confident way is a vital part of everyday life. And never so necessary as right now because, if you look at the trees, you will see that the oranges are finally, well… orange. (*On a curious side note pineapple is called ‘ananás’ in just about every other language, but English.)
These bright balls of Vitamin C are truly an emblem of life in the Algarve. A particularly juicy one can give you more ‘get up and go’ than the strongest cup of coffee. In fact, I’m convinced that oranges must be the origin of the expression ‘zest for life’, as I don’t think there’s much that gives you such ‘joie de vivre’, as walking out into a green sunny field at this time of year, plucking an orange from the tree and smelling the actual ‘zest’ of the fruit as you peel into it with your finger nails and it sprays out (hopefully missing your eye) and fills the air with that unmistakably ‘orangey’ aroma. You inevitably get pretty sticky, but it’s worth it as the fragrant flavour makes you realize just how lucky you are - and makes you feel that this is what life here in southern Portugal is all about.
If you don’t have your own personal supplier (a tree), then the second best place to get them is not in the supermarkets, but along the EN125 (which somehow manages to have oranges ‘roadside’ all year round. Not sure how they manage that?). A top tip would be to keep an eye out for the local old people that live along the road, and if you see their little stall is being shaded by the trees that they clearly came from - then so much the better. They are very reasonably priced and the money will mean a lot more to them than it would to a megastore anyway.
This was just a quick message that I’m going to keep short, and like the oranges themselves, ‘sweet’, to simply remind you that ‘tis the season’ and to go out there and eat some! After all, the hit of Vitamin C you get from the oranges themselves, the Vitamin D you absorb whilst picking them (particularly on days when the trees have that beautiful backdrop of deep blue) and, if you will forgive me for this silly joke - the ‘Vitamin Sea’ you get from the fresh salty air along the coast, combine to make the Algarve a potent mix when it comes to keeping you healthy.
So, if you are anything like me and your tongue trips over the ‘Portuguese skipping rope’ mid word, I highly recommend you keep practicing - the zip, zing and indeed zest those ‘opulent orbs’ give you is worth the embarrassment.