Mediterranean diet, Nature


How fortunate that vitamin-packed citrus fruits are in peak season right from November to March, when we most crave and need the scents and flavors of sunnier days. Spain, as one of the ten largest producers in the world with around 3.5 million tons per year, brings us every year a variety of citrus fruits, from Valencia in the east down to the sun-drenched Andalusian provinces of Málaga, Seville, Granada and Huelva.

From well-known varieties such as Navelina and Valencia oranges, to grapefruit, mandarins and tangerines. They export their first-class products all over the world. However, it is not just any orange that has become emblematic of the city, on the contrary, it is the bitter orange, the naranja amarga, which characterize the Andalusian capital with their beguiling scent and have become known worldwide as the Seville Orange.

The more than 50,000 trees show their full splendor twice a year. In winter, when the branches hang with bright orange fruits and in spring, when a white blanket of orange blossoms envelops the city in a seductively exotic scent that is so characteristic and beguiling of Seville.

Historically, the bitter orange is believed to have first been cultivated in Southern Asia around 314 BC. It arrived in the 11th century in Italy, and in the Middle Ages the Arabs introduced them to Spain under the name naranja. However, the sweet variant didn’t arrive to Europe until later, in the 15th century.

Planting the tree was said to bring good luck to its owner, which is why the Arabs decided to plant the orange groves throughout the peninsula, especially since they stay green all year round and provide shade in the hot summer. It can be assumed that the Arabs fell in love with the flowers mainly because of the scent, which is still called Azahar in Spanish today, after the Arabic word for white flower.

The palace complex’s name, Medina Azahara near Córdoba, bears witness to this. The Seville Orange also achieved world fame thanks to the traditional British bitter orange marmalade, for which the naturally higher pectin content is particularly valued.


Read the full article in Issue 22

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