Sweet Oranges, Bro

The Mid-City Farmers market, in front of The American Can building on Orleans Ave.

I’ve been visiting the Mid-City Farmer’s Market most Thursdays for a few months. In the past, I’ve not been good about knowing when fruit is in season.* In DC I was an on/off member of Arganica, a home-delivery, local-source food club that I’d recommend to any Washingtonians. I was slowly learning the time of year that produce was available  when I moved down here.

Example: I had to ask my boyfriend why I never see apples at the farmers markets in New Orleans. After all, there were a number of varieties at all the markets in D.C. “Apples grow well in colder climates,” he explained.

I felt really dumb after he told me this. (My boyfriend is from California and as a teenager his mom had a job packaging plums, so I believe he is a produce expert.)

So my seasons ignorance set me up for a nasty surprise today. I’ve been buying a particular orange from the orange guy at the Mid-City market. They’re called Sweet Oranges cos they are very, very sweet. (Or at least he calls them that.) They are the most awesome oranges I’ve ever had– and I’m from Florida, famous for its oranges! (Although don’t ask me when they are in season.)

The orange man. (Not to be confused with someone who went to the Syracuse-- zing!)

These sweet oranges have been a lifesaver. I’ve gained a lot of weight living in NOLA (more on that in an upcoming post) and I have found it at least somewhat easy to opt out of dessert at home with these oranges around. Well, the orange man told me today that this is the last week he’ll have them.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooOOOoooOoooooOOOOOOOOooooo

He corrected himself and said that his wife will have the last round of oranges this Saturday, at the farmer’s market at in the Warehouse District. Well, I don’t get up early enough for that, but perhaps one of you dear readers will take advantage of this opportunity.

This is the day some sweet oranges broke my heart.

(And that was going to be the title of this blog post until my boyfriend suggested the title above.)

(Two boyfriend references! I judge myself.)

To remember for all eternity:

SWEET ORANGES ARE AVAILABLE DECEMBER-BEGINNING OF MARCH IN NEW ORLEANS

Until next year, my sweet sweet orange.

*(if this was a more different blog I’d write about how our America is so removed from its agrarian roots that people don’t know when fruits/vegetables are fresh. Or I could write about any number of environmental movements. I would probably sound more self-righteous than I do normally, so I’m glad that’s not my baileywick.)

UPDATE 3/8/2012, about 20 minutes after original post
A commenter who may-or-may-not be someone I date posted that my apple information was incorrect. According to Apple Facts from the University of Illinois, apples are grown in all 50 states.

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Is there a Jazzfest “Season?”

On my bike the other morning I noticed a house with a Jazzfast flag flying. Behind Rouses, a Miller Lite truck proclaimed itself “The Official Drink of Jazzfest.” (Granted, that sign could’ve been on the truck all year) With Carnival Season parading off into storage units does that mean we’re in Jazzfest season? And is there such a thing? Carnival Season involves costumes, king cakes, parties and parades. In the months leading up to Jazzfest are there related celebrations? (I should note that some years Mardi Gras Day is later in the calendar, so the time between Mardi Gras and Jazzfest is truncated.)

The Seasons of New Orleans
I’ve written about how I miss the changing weather of D.C. Growing up, I found the eternal spring-summer cycle in my hometown of Miami dulling. However, New Orleans makes a slightly more differentiated spring-summer cycle by creating seasons of its own, marked by festivals and extended holiday celebrations. My blog-post hypothesis is that these festivals and celebrations create a rhythm to the year and mark time in a way that the city’s slightly colder winter and brutal summers do not.

Fall through start of Winter: Football and Christmas
September in New Orleans reminds me of living in a college town in that the whole city is galvanized by a sporting event. People here are nuts about LSU and the SEC. As a Gator I am always ruffled by LSU-ness of the celebration around here, but am grateful to be around a community that enjoys college football (and the SEC!). It’s a welcome reprise from living in D.C., which is more of a pro-sports town.

I’ve written about the Saints excitement many, many, many, many, many, many times. But this year marked the first time I watched a LOT of the NFL. It feels like you have to here, or you’re left out of cultural conversation and references. I used to only spend Saturdays at the bar to catch my college team. Now it’s all bar, all weekend… and I guess that’s New Orleans in a microcosm.

New Orleans also does a great job creating a festive Christmas atmosphere. The French Quarter Festival and The New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation organize Christmas New Orleans Style, an annual citywide celebration of New Orleans holiday activities. The festival started 27 years ago, as way to attract visitors to the city at a time when tourism traditionally dips. Throughout the month there are events around the city that remind you of the season. And even though we have had a mild winter, walking through the French Quarter in December felt like Christmas.

January-February/March
Carnival Season

March-May
March is marked by St. Patrick’s Day, April by the French Quarter Festival and then Jazzfest in April/May. That’s more than enough, but I point you back to my hypothesis: Is there something that unites the season?

Summer
Now that I’ve nearly lived here a year, I recognize summer as the city’s downtime. The summer, like the spring,  is punctuated by festivals and regular events, some of which I’ve blogged about here: 610 Stompers, Satchmo Fest and White Linen Night, but there doesn’t seem to be one element that captures the city’s excitement.

Update: Seasonal Beers 3/1/12
Upon relaying this post’s topic to my boyfriend, he reminded me of seasonal beers. We are lucky to have a number of great local breweries, including LA 31, Covington Brewhouse, Tin Roof and Lazy Magnolia. However, Abita is the line I’m really familiar with, and the release of their seasonal brews always mark the season for me.

January-March: Mardi Gras Bock
Spring: Strawberry Harvest
March-May: Red Ale
May-September: Wheat
Summer: Satsuma Harvest Wit
Fall: Pecan Harvest
September-November: Fall Fest
November-December: Christmas Ale

When my boyfriend and I moved into our Uptown sublet in June, our summer landlord was kind enough to leave us some Strawberry ale in the fridge. When we moved out we bought a pack of Satsuma ale for her– a remnant of the New Orleans summer she had missed.

NOLA Brewery also releases seasonal beer, but I’m not as certain about the seasons they’re out because they’re a relatively new brewery. As far as I can tell:

Fall: Smoky Mary
Winter: Irish Channel Stout
January-March: Flambeau Red Ale (for Mardi Gras)
Spring: Hurricane Saison

New Orleans’ Winter Makes Me Miss DC

Keeping Track of the Weather
After a brutal summer, it’s finally cold. I still remember the week at the end of August when the heat first snapped, only to return again a week later. It amuses me that I retained this information, but I think that’s because it’s my first year back in New Orleans. It took me a few years of living in D.C. to predict the weather’s moods. I still recall how late I wore my winter jackets in my first year there (last week of March, 2006).

The last week of March, 2006. From top to bottom: Cherry blossoms, me.

For the purpose of next year, and those new to the city, here is my weather calendar thus far:
June-August: Unbearably hot (Sun sets at 7:45)
September: Warm, but okay. A few cold snaps. (Sun sets at 7)
October: Beautiful (Sun sets at 6:15)
November: Beautiful most days, sometimes a bit uncomfortably chilly (Sun sets by 5:15)

Questions for New Orleanians:
– How accurate is my calendar?
– This week, and a few weeks during November, we jumped from days where the mercury read 75 degrees to days like today, when my phone says 38. Is this typical?

Missing DC
I grew up in Miami, and Washington was the first place I ever lived with four, full seasons. I loved the way the seasons marked. Unlike areas further north and south, DC seasons generally last three months. I knew I’d miss the seasons when I moved down here, and I’ve felt the pangs as the weather has turned cold. I miss snow. Sure, it’s a pain, but I always got excited when the snow fell, which happened 3-4 times a year. We even had a few snowstorms, but I thought it was fun. I didn’t own property or drive a car, so it just meant time off work.

Winter on Connecticut Ave., Cleveland Park

I loved the way the trees told time. In the winter when the leaves fell I could see up the street for miles. The view from the Taft Bridge let me to see deep into Rock Creek Park. By summer the trees get so full that I couldn’t see the road. I miss that.

Fall in Cleveland Park

Fall on Connecticut Ave., Cleveland Park

The full look of summer.

This Friday I am going on a mini vacation to D.C. It’ll be the first time back since I packed up my apartment over the summer, which was no vacation, lemme tell ya! More on this in the upcoming week. I’m very excited.