January 26th begins the year of the ox. A great opportunity to talk about a citrus fruit favored during this festival: kumquats.
The tiny green leaves of the kumquat symbolize wealth. The shape of the kumquat is a Chinese symbol of unity and perfection. The fruit is eaten at New Years for good fortune, prosperity and happiness.
To welcome the new year, which is a 15 day celebration, the Chinese love to decorate and use an abundance of flowers and fruit.
Flowers from fruit trees are seen as a sign of bounty, which indeed it is. Avocados, mangos, kumquats and other trees baring fruit, flower before the fruit appears. Generally speaking the more flowers the fruit tree has, the more fruit it bears.
A favorite way to decorate for the Chinese New Year is to put out a bowl of kumquats with flowers.
If you look at kumquats and see a tiny orange, they'll seem like a lot of trouble to eat. But unlike oranges, kumquats' sweet skin can be eaten and provide a combination of pleasing textures to go with the somewhat tart taste inside.
Growing up, my bus stop in Miami had a kumquat tree shading our wait, I loved just picking and munching on them. Nowadays I slice ripe kumquats into salads or use as a garnish. Kumquats preserves and marmalades are fantastic and preferred over orange marmalade.
Enjoy this mid-winter citrus treat. Here's an easy recipe that takes salsa to the far east.
12 kumquats, thinly sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, equally thinly sliced
2 pieces of crushed garlic
2 pieces of shallots, thinly sliced
the juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon coriander
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
salt, pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together, refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve on top of seafood or with chips.