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Serendipity: Are Oranges Always Orange?

What the Best Oranges Look Like

What we usually think oranges should look like are bright orange throughout. We are unlikely to accept oranges that are green with some orange on their rinds. But the best oranges I have eaten, whether in solid form or juiced, are much too ugly to sell in an American supermarket. In his book Beyond the Mexique Bay (1934), Aldous Huxley describes his own discovery along these lines when he visited Trinidad:

The oranges that grow in these tropical islands are particularly juicy and aromatic; but they never appear on any European or North American market. As with so many of us, their faces are their misfortune; they have a complexion which nature has made, not orange, but bright green, irregularly marbled with yellow. Nobody, therefore, outside their countries of origin, will buy them. For fruit, strangely enough, is sold on the strength of its appearance, not of its taste. Every grower knows that his product must appeal first to the eye and only secondarily to the palate. Immense pains have been taken to embellish the skin, but how little does anyone ever trouble to improve the flavour, of our dessert! …

But this is not the whole story. Man looks out on reality through an intervening and only partially transparent medium—his language. He sees real things overlaid by their verbal symbols. Thus, when he looks at oranges, it is as though he looked at them through a stained-glass window representing oranges. If the real oranges correspond with the beau idéal of oranges painted on the window, he feels that everything is all right. But if they don’t correspond, then he becomes suspicious; something must be wrong.


3 thoughts on “Serendipity: Are Oranges Always Orange?

  1. So true of our reactions to what we come to think of as “the norm”, according to our culture or upbringing etc, whether it is oranges or other people, cats, dogs or critters! “Never assume” eh?

  2. And even more crucial what is not focused on is the nutrition and safety of the food! Our food looks great but is often bio engineered ( like wheat to grow short stalks so it won’t flop over and destroy the seeds. It’s high yield per acre but loaded with pesticides because you can now spray anything on it and it won’t die – and high in gluten which many people’s stomachs can’t take.). No one focuses on testing the fruits and vegetables for their nutrients! All the birds around the farms die because of the chemicals used. The soil gets more and more depleted because the microbes have all been killed off. IN some ways the old methods were so much healthier but less profitable, and as you say the fruit didn’t look “perfect” .

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