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Friday, September 9, 2016

Blood Oranges, Town Crier and my childhood - Arance Sanguine, Bannitore e la mia fanciullezza

Recently, I was reading a recipe for Margaritas and it called for blood oranges. Now, I have not seen nor eaten a blood orange since I was a child and, of course, this sparked a childhood flashback.

Blood Orange

But what does a town crier or bannitore have to do with blood oranges? I grew up in a small town in Abruzzo, post World War II. You see, in those days, there weren’t any circulars or ads in the local paper advertising sales.

A town crier or bannitore would be the person that, when a vendor would arrive in town, would go street by street communicating the notice to others. Generally, he was equipped with a trumpet or horn which served to draw people, who would then rush to their windows to hear what was being sold at the piazza. “Attenzione, attenzione; รจ arrivato il venditore con le sue belle arance sanguine dalla Sicilia.” Correte tutti in piazza…”. “Attention, Attention, a vendor has arrived with  blood oranges from Sicily.  Run to the piazza.”  The announcement would diffuse in record time because in those days neither radio nor other methods of communicating with others existed.

My mother and I upon hearing the sale announcement rushed to the piazza and purchased blood oranges by the kilos. These blood oranges, stained with red like Lady Macbeth, had an unforgettable sweet and tangy like taste with a hint of raspberry. I was told that the rich soil of Sicily and the Mediterranean temperature variation between day and night seems to be necessary to develop the distinctive red color.

We did not have Margaritas in those days nor did we have desserts on a daily basis.  Blood oranges and other fruits substituted for desserts which we only had on special occasions.  Today, being food conscious and a label reader of many cookies and cakes laden with corn syrup and artificial ingredients, I wish all children would eat oranges or other fruits as a snack or dessert.  In my opinion, they would be healthier.


The rich hue of blood oranges can be an aesthetic wonder when added to fresh fruit mixes and salads or used as a garnish.



Ingredients –

• 2 large navel oranges and 2 blood oranges
• 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced but save a few feathery fennel leaves
• Extra virgin olive oil to taste (about 8 – 10 tablespoons)
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Cut the oranges and fennel bulb
• Arrange orange and fennel slices on a large round plate
• Drizzle with olive oil
• Add salt and black pepper
• Sprinkle with the fine fennel leaves and serve.

Oh yes, the Margaritas


1 quart fresh blood orange juice or fresh orange juice (about 12 blood oranges or 8 large navel oranges)
1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice (about 12 limes)
1 1/2 cups Cointreau or other triple sec
3 1/2 cups silver tequila
Kosher salt
1 blood orange or orange wedge, plus 12 thin blood orange or orange slices
1 dozen small sage sprigs or leaves

1.In a large pitcher, mix the blood orange juice with the lime juice, Cointreau and silver tequila. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.
2.Spread a small mound of salt on a small plate. Moisten the outer rim of 12 martini glasses with the orange wedge, then dip the rims into the salt to lightly coat.
3.Add ice to the pitcher and stir well, then strain into the prepared glasses. Garnish each margarita with a blood orange slice and a sage sprig and serve.

Make Ahead
The margarita recipe can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated, covered, overnight.